Former World Series Of Fighting middleweight and light-heavyweight champion, David Branch, makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 211 this weekend, where he will face top-15 middleweight Krzysztof Jotko.
Branch, who last competed in the UFC in 2011, has since gone on to enjoy major success in another MMA promotion. After his release from the UFC, Branch signed with the newly-formed WSOF promotion in 2012 and competed in their first two events where he defeated Dustin Jacoby and Paulo Filho with both wins coming via unanimous decision. In 2014, at WSOF 10, he became the first ever WSOF middleweight champion when he beat Jessie Taylor by first round submission via a D’arce choke before defending the belt against then-recently released UFC fighter, Yushin Okami, at WSOF 15, winning by fourth round TKO.
Branch faced promotional newcomer and late replacement for a dehydrated Ronny Markes, Jesse McElligott at WSOF 20. However, this would not be another defence of his middleweight title. Instead, this would be for a slot in the light-heavyweight tournament final. Branch won the fight via Von Flue choke in the second round and advanced to the finals where he met Teddy Holder at WSOF 23. Branch became the first ever WSOF light-heavyweight champion on the night as he showcased his BJJ black belt skills by submitting Holder in the first round. With this win, Branch now held both the WSOF middleweight and light-heavyweight titles simultaneously, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the MMA world. Branch went on to defend the middleweight title twice and 205lb title once more before being re-signed by the UFC in early 2017.
Branch enters the battle of the win streaks at UFC 211
The former WSOF double champ is currently riding a ten-fight win streak, winning five of those fights by stoppage. His last loss came to recently retired Anthony Johnson back in 2012 when he lost via unanimous decision. It’s clear that Branch is a welcomed addition to either weight class and his experience gathered outside of the cage is invaluable at this point. The American is a well-developed fighter with very little holes in his game and is a black belt in BJJ under Renzo Gracie and also has a background in karate.
His opponent at UFC 211, Jotko, is enjoying a purple patch of his own, having won five straight fights. The Polish powerhouse has taken out some impressive names along the way, besting both Thales Leites and Tamdan McCrory (the latter in spectacular one punch KO fashion). Jotko has only lost once in his professional MMA career and this was via submission. Interestingly, Branch has seven victories via submission so perhaps this is something to look out for on the night.