Winning a world title in this sport is a steep challenge for just about every fighter that competes in mixed martial arts. The overwhelmingly vast majority of fighters will go their whole career without capturing a major organizational championship. As much as with skill and talent, along with a little bit of opportunistic luck, David Branch has obtained two and holds them at the same time.
WSOF Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion David Branch defended his 185 lbs title this past Saturday at WSOF 30 against game Middleweight contender and former NCAA Division 1 wrestler Clifford Starks. Surprisingly, Branch would dominate the wrestling and grappling aspect of the fight across all five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory in the main event.
Branch spoke briefly about facing Starks and his thoughts on him as an opponent:
“He proved tougher than I thought he was going to be.” said Branch of Starks. “He’s one of those guys I call an ‘old Chevy’. He’s been around the sport for a long time. I wanted to just break him, with like dirty boxing, knees, and clinches and nullify his boxing and just break his will. But he stayed around longer than I thought (he would). I wanted to get him tired but he just kept coming back, he kept getting that second wind. I wanted to keep my finishing streak going and he broke that but I’ll be back. I’m hungry man. I’m hungry.”
Ever the changing wind, the obvious course of mind is wondering just what is next for the duel-champion as Branch has yet to receive a definitive answer on who he will face next or even in what division. That doesn’t deter him from understanding just how prestigious his placement in the MMA history books is when it comes to holding two belts.
“It means a lot to me. It’s only been Dan Henderson and myself that have done it so far. Conor McGregor is looking to do it and I wish him the best but right now I’m the guy who’s got it. I got double gold and that’s the way it is.”
Of course, with ‘it’ being the way that it is, one has to wonder the difficulty in facing men between divisions separated by a whopping 20 pounds. Branch was not ignorant towards the struggle in which facing such a versatile group of men can be. Even going so far as to make one drastically important decision known.
“It’s not tough at all (making weight),” said Branch. “I’m a professional, and if that means I have to go up a little bit, you know, I’m already a big Middleweight, but I don’t think Ill go up to 205 much longer. It’s not my natural weight. Those guys are huge. You got guys that weigh in at 205 and then will enter the cage at almost 240 pounds. That’s not the kind of guy I’m looking to fight a five-round fight with. That’s the reason they have weight classes. I did what I did already and I got maybe a title defense or two at 205 and then I’m going to relinquish that belt.
While no set contender has been announced for either of Branch’s divisions in the World Series of Fighting, one man may have been able to insight the argument that he should get the next crack at Branch and at 205 for his Light Heavyweight title. That man is Vinny Magalhaes, who defeated Jake Huen in the same night by unanimous decision victory. Magalhaes has won two straight in the WSOF and prior to Saturday night, submitted Matt “The Hammer” Hamill with a first round kneebar in his promotional debut at WSOF 24 last October. One Middleweight who has created some buzz is Louis Taylor who made a impactful debut at WSOF 29 last month in March after submitting Cory Devela with a guillotine choke in the opening minute of the first round.
No matter what is next for Branch, he doesn’t want to have to wait around too long for it.
“I’d like to fight two more times (this year), possibly three” said Branch of the remainder of 2016. “They’d probably put me on the saddle for two, but I’d like to fight two more times, for sure. I can do it. I’m injury free. I just came back from shoulder surgery and knee surgery. No injuries (from) this fight. I got one week off, and then I’m right back in the gym. I got a lot of stuff to work on.”