Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will return to the Octagon for the first time since June 2016 when he faces David Branch in the UFC Fight Night 116 headliner on Sept. 16.
The pairing was revealed during the UFC on Fox 25 broadcast Saturday night. UFC Fight Night 116 takes place at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on the same day as the boxing match between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. The card will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Six other matchups were announced for the card: Hector Lombard vs. Anthony Smith at middleweight; Kamaru Usman vs. Sergio Moraes at welterweight; Krzysztof Jotko vs. Uriah Hall at middleweight; Gilbert Burns vs. Jason Saggo at lightweight; Anthony Hamilton vs. Daniel Spitz at heavyweight and Justin Ledet vs. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy at heavyweight.
Rockhold hasn’t competed since relinquishing the middleweight crown in a shocking knockout loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 199. Prior to that, the American Kickboxing Academy product put together a five-bout winning streak that included triumphs over Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida and Bisping. The former Strikeforce champion owns a 15-3 career record, with 13 wins coming inside the distance.
Branch, meanwhile, enters the showdown on an 11-fight winning streak. The former World Series of Fighting two-division champion returned to the Octagon for the first time in more than six years at UFC 211, where he captured a split verdict over Jotko. The Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product is 21-3 over the course of a career that began in 2007.