UFC middleweight Dave Branch did not have the debut he was looking for.
After battling through the first two rounds of his UFC 116 bout against Gerald Harris, Branch was knocked out by a big slam in the final frame, sending him home with the first loss of his professional career. However, the middleweight rebounded with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Tomasz Drwal at “UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Palhares” and he is prepared to build on that victory this weekend.
Saturday night at “The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale“, Branch will face off against Rich Attonito on the preliminary card in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attonito, a former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant brings with him a very solid striking game and works with the American Top Team gym in Florida. Needless to say, Branch feels his latest opponent is a definite step up in terms of competition.
“Every opponent poses a different problem,” Branch told Heavy.com earlier this week. “I definitely think he’s a step up for me because he’s the next guy that is in my path. Anybody that is in my path is the next step up.”
Prior to his loss to Drwal, Branch was an undefeated wrecking machine, earning stoppage victories in all six of his wins. Three came via submission and three came via knockout, making Branch an unpredictable threat inside the cage.
Facing off against Attonito, Branch says that his versatility benefits him in a big way. After all, he has proven that he is capable of finishing any fight from essentially any position, making him a threat in nearly every situation. And it is something he believes his opponents have to worry about.
“Yeah, I think they definitely have to be careful,” Branch says. “It (my record) speaks for itself, and I want to continue to do that. I want them to feel like they’re sitting in my bus, and I’m driving them.”
One thing that stands out with a fighter like Branch is his extensive experience training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Under renowned jiu-jitsu artist Renzo Gracie, Branch has earned a black belt and the reputation of an absolute killer in the ground game.
However, he finds himself in a division filled with submission artists and dangerous grapplers. The division’s top dog Anderson Silva, submission ace Rousimar Palhares, and wrestler Yushin Okami all have displayed grappling prowess, whether it be in an offensive or defensive manner. Regardless, Branch feels he is one of the top jiu-jitsu fighters in the division.
“Honestly, there are a few guys in the division that are pretty good,” Branch says. “I think I match up at the top five in the middleweight division. The top three, or top five. With my credentials in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and my background and who I’ve trained with and my accomplishments, I think I would definitely put myself in the top four, or three.”
While Branch holds a black belt in the art of jiu-jitsu, his pedigree did not help him avoid the devastating knockout against the aforementioned Harris this past July. The loss was the first of his career and he has learned from it. According to Branch, everyone watching him fight this weekend and from here on out can expect a much better performance. They can expect a fight in which he brings the action, dictates the fight, and earns the victory.
“You can expect a different David Branch who is going to be pushing the pace, who is going to be dictating the fight, who’s going to be looking for the finish. That’s what you can expect.”
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