Number three middleweight Luke Rockhold beat David Branch with a flurry of strikes in the second round of a UFC showdown between ranked fighters on Saturday night, re-establishing himself as a top contender in the division. Rockhold (16-3) took Branch to the ground in the second round and established top control, hammering blows on Branch’s head and neck. Branch submitted 4:05 into the period. Branch (21-4) showed off his boxing prowess early, backing Rockhold up against the cage with an aggressive attack in the first round. That led the ju-jitsu-trained Rockhold to take him to the ground. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua’s UFC Japan return cancelled after further knee injury The fight was Rockhold’s first since losing the middleweight title to Michael Bisping last June. Rockhold suffered a knee injury while training for a fight against Jacare Souza in November. Branch, who entered the fight ranked ninth in the division, took his first defeat since 25 May, 2012, breaking an 11-bout unbeaten streak.