Rockhold (16-3) got double underhooks in on Branch with two minutes left in the second round, and crumpled Branch, a 35-year-old from The Bronx, to the ground. Branch submitted 4:05 into the period.
Fight Network's live telecasts of UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: Rockhold vs. Branch and ONE Championship: Total Victory are available exclusively in Canada, while Combate Americas: El Grito en La Jaula will be live broadcast in Canada and over 30 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I rushed the fight last time (against Bisping).
Landing multiple strikes, Rockhold took Branch's back near the edge of the cage. That led the jiu-jitsu-trained Rockhold to take him to the ground. It was the first trip to the octagon for Rockhold since losing his title since UFC 199 to Michael Bisping. Rockhold suffered a knee injury while training for a fight against Jacare Souza in November.
In his first match since June 2016 Rockhold forced Branch to submit at UFC Fight Night 116
Rockhold defeated David Branch and discussed his future during a post-fight interview.
Rockhold, now ranked No. 3 in his weight class behind interim champion Robert Whittaker and No. 2 Yoel Romero, indirectly called out Bisping after his latest win. Rockhold, though, refused to say Bisping's name, instead talking about Georges St-Pierre. "But you lock that door with me, man, you all know what to expect". You don't belong here, you're gonna get crushed. You better back out.
Rockhold normally trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, but he opted for a change of scenery leading up to this fight.