The UFC Middleweight division is in a state of great instability. When Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva at UFC 162, many expected him to reign for years to come. Instead, he soon succumbed to Luke Rockhold. Rockhold looked as though he could be an unbeatable force as well. And, many expected him to dominate Michael Bisping in his first title defense.
But at UFC 199, the unthinkable happened when Michael Bisping knocked out Rockhold. With Bisping having looked less than impressive in his lone title defense, though, many have began to speculate about who could be the next fighter to win the UFC title. One man with the ability to upset the Middleweight hierarchy is David Branch.
For fight fans that focus solely on the UFC, the name David Branch may ring some bells. You may remember him for his loss against Rousimar Palhares, or his highlight reel knockout loss to Gerald Harris. But few fans remember his UFC wins and the hype that surrounded Branch as he signed for the UFC. In all honesty, his UFC tenure was not amazing, but he did not deserve to be cut when he was. Branch was 2-1 for the promotion before he lost to Palhares and had shown development in his game. In hindsight, it seems getting cut from the UFC might have been the best thing to happen to David Branch.
After leaving the UFC Branch, already a gifted black belt under Renzo Gracie, began to piece together the other core components necessary for an MMA fighter to thrive. In his first two post-UFC fights, he showcased improved striking and transitional wrestling en route to impressive victories. His successes would eventually earn him a fight against light heavyweight star, Anthony Johnson. While Branch would be defeated by a�?Rumblea�?, he would manage to go the distance with one of the most feared finishers in the gamea��a feat impressive in itself.
The rise of David Branch began in the World Series of Fighting. After signing for the Las Vegas based promotion, consecutive victories earned him a spot in the promotion’s Middleweight tournament. There Branch dominated the field, winning the title with ease. In his first title defense, he entered the cage against Yushin Okami as a substantial underdog. But he would flip the script, ultimately defeating the Japanese star.
His impressive performance against Okami caught the attention of the WSOF elite. And they let their Middleweight champion move up to 205 to enter the promotion’s Light Heavyweight tournament. Much like the Middleweight tournament, Branch tore through all comers at Light Heavyweight. Using his Renzo Gracie taught grappling skills, Branch would submit both foes en route to securing the WSOF Light Heavyweight champion. Thus, becoming the first two-division champion in the promotion’s history.
Since winning his second title for the WSOF, Branch has remained incredibly active, logging two Middleweight title defenses and a very impressive Light Heavyweight defense against submission grappling superstar Vinny MagalhA?es. Having dominated all the WSOF has to offer, Branch decided to leave the promotion and in recent days has elected to rejoin the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
While he has successes at Light Heavyweight in the WSOF, be under no illusions that he belongs at 205 pounds. To succeed in the UFC, he needs to focus on the Middleweight division, one in desperate need of a shakeup. Branch matches up well with a number of the division’s best fightersa��especially the champion, Michael Bisping.
While David Branch is not the flashiest fighter in the world, his talent is indisputable. In the coming months, he may very well prove that the world’s best Middleweight has been fighting outside of the UFC all along.