PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to PPG Paints Arena Saturday night, bringing a big main event and some intriguing undercard bouts to Pittsburgh.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) August 11, 2017
Saturday night’s Fight Night card is headlined by a middleweight showdown between Luke Rockhold (15-3-0) and David Branch (21-3-0). It will be the first fight for Rockhold since he lost the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.
Branch is one of the hottest fighters in UFC. He’s riding an 11-fight winning streak into Pittsburgh. He may also have some extra motivation Saturday. He recently welcomed his third child.
Saturday night’s card also includes a pair of intriguing heavyweight bouts. One person who will be watching closely is Adam Milstead. The UFC heavyweight makes his home in Pittsburgh. He says he’ll be in attendance, front and center, at PPG Paints Arena.
“Being at the fights this Saturday is really going to tug at my heart because I know Pittsburgh needs a Pittsburgh fighter in that cage that night,” Milstead said. “I take a great amount pride in knowing I’m the only current UFC fighter out of Pittsburgh.”
Milstead is working his way back from a gruesome knee injury that happened during a fight last February. He says he suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, along with a severe sprain of his MCL. He underwent surgery late last March and is still receiving treatment.
“All in all I’m doing better then I was. I’m training a lot more and I can’t wait to get back in that cage and fight for this city.”
Milstead may be scouting some future opponents Saturday night.
Undefeated heavyweight Justin Ledet (8-0-0, 1 NC) will face a Pennsylvania product fighting in the UFC for the first time at the age of 36. Zu Anyanwu (14-4-0) is the second graduate of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series to make his official UFC debut.
Anyanwu will be one of a couple options for local fans looking for a hometown hero on Saturday night’s card. He fights out of Langhorne, Bucks County. Milstead said he was nearly matched up against Anyanwu years ago, before both found their ways to the UFC.
“I’m glad he got in,” Milstead said, “but this is a whole different group of athletes compared to the local talent he’s known to fight. I think he’s in for a rude awakening from Ledet.”
Another heavyweight on Saturday night’s card will be appearing in only his second fight in the UFC. Daniel Spitz (5-1-0) lost via unanimous decision in his debut against Mark Godbeer at UFC 209 last March. Spitz took the fight on short notice.
Spitz will face Anthony Hamilton (15-7-0) on Saturday night. Hamilton was on the last UFC card in Pittsburgh, where he lost a unanimous decision to Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Milstead expects a better outcome for Hamilton in his return to Pittsburgh.
“Spitz is too young in this sport to top a veteran like Hamilton.”
Another fighter who will likely receive some extra support from local fans is Gregor Gillespie (9-0-0). He was a 4-time Division I All-American at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and won a NCAA national championship at 149 lbs. in 2007. He currently fights out of Long Island, New York. Gillespie will face Jason Gonzalez (11-3-0) on Saturday night.
As for the main event, Milstead said he’s excited to see Luke Rockhold back in the octagon.
“(David) Branch is a tough fighter, but even a tougher grappler. Luke can definitely win this fight standing up and deal with a good bit on the ground. I don’t see Branch showing Luke something he hasn’t seen before. I’m putting my money on Luke. Happy to see him back in the cage again.”
As is often the case in UFC, there’s a late change to Saturday night’s card. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Thiago Alves was being pulled out of his scheduled bout against Mike Perry (10-1-0). Alves will be replaced by Alex Reyes, who will make his UFC debut on just three days notice.
Respect to my new opponent steppin up on 3 days notice. Let’s see what you got Alex Reyes
— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) September 13, 2017
Most of the matches will be broadcast nationally on FS1. The prelims start at 8 p.m. The main card begins at 10 p.m.