Luke Rockhold doesn’t think David Branch has the best of confidence in his ability as they approach their UFC Fight Night 116 main event clash.
Rockhold was previously on a five fight win streak that concluded with him winning the UFC bantamweight championship against Chris Weidman via fourth round knockout in the co-main event of UFC 194 back in December of 2015. He lost his first title defense against Michael Bisping in June of last year after being knocked out in the first round and has not been seen inside the Octagon since due to an injury.
Branch is currently on an 11 fight win streak and hasn’t lost in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition since May of 2012. He made a successful return to the UFC back in May as he defeated Krzysztof Jotko via split decision. Now Rockhold and Branch are set to meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night 116 in September, and the former UFC champ recently joined The MMA Hour to discuss his Octagon return.
Rockhold said that he believes Branch questions himself inside the cage – something you can’t allow at this level of the game (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Branch is a good fighter, I think he just questions himself,” Rockhold said. “You can’t question yourself at this level.
“I’m going to eat him up. I’m going to push him to that breaking point, and he’s going to feel the pressure. He can’t keep up with me. You can’t think you’re going to do something. You have to know. I see Branch, he questions himself. He’s good everywhere, he’s a third-degree black belt, he’s a decent boxer, but there’s questions in his head, and it’s time for me to go make those a little more doubtful as the rounds go on.”
Currently the middleweight division is in a bit of an odd spot with UFC middleweight champ Michael Bisping expected to defend his title against the returning former UFC welterweight king Georges St-Pierre this November in New York. That fight has gone through a bit of a rollercoaster itself as of late, but despite both Bisping and St-Pierre claiming the fight is on, Rockhold still believes it’s possible that it falls out again:
“It obviously doesn’t sit well,” Rockhold said when asked for his opinion on how things have played out. “We’ll see what happens. Nothing’s official until it’s official, so we’ll see. Who knows at this point? Georges has been for a long time.
“There’ll be a fight in November, we just don’t know who. You never know if it’s Georges. Who knows if Georges is going to make a fight? At this stage, all the things he’s been through, you can’t expect that he’s going to show up to that date. His body might fail, his mind might fail. There’s a lot of things you can question with Georges.
“I can only control what’s ahead of me, and that’s Sept. 16. I’m going to go do my job and put myself in line.”
Although he is still a proud member of the American Kickboxing Acadamy (AKA), which features former champions such as Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez, Rockhold said he is expected to begin his camp for branch in Florida with with Henri Hooft:
“I’m starting things out here,” Rockhold said. “I think it’s nice to get a change and to mix things up. Always keep growing and keep learning. Things are a little stale back home, I have some family things and it’s nice to get away and just clear your head for a bit. So I’m going to start my camp out here, and maybe I’ll bounce back and finish off.
“A lot of guys (at AKA) are injured right now,” Rockhold added. “Cain is still injured and DC is obviously taking some time off, and some other guys are astray, I’d say. So, my relationship here with Henri Hooft and the team is good, everybody knows I’ve been training out here for quite some time, there’s a lot of good guys my size. So I’ve got to do what’s best for me right now, and Javier and Bob Cook and Cormier, they’re always going to be in my corner. So this just is what it is right now.”