WSOF 2’s David Branch: My Fight With Paulo Filho Will End With “The Ref Pulling Me Off Of Him.”
By Timothy J. Gilbert
During his 14 fight professional career, David Branch has done time in both the Bellator and UFC middleweight division. After a disappointing submission loss to Rousimar Palhares bumped him out of the UFC, and a unanimous decision loss to Anthony Johnson at Titan Fighting Championship 22 severed his momentum, the Bronx native rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Dustin Jacoby at the inaugural World Series of Fighting event in Las Vegas on Nov. 3, and is ready to “make [the] next step” in his upcoming World Series of Fighting 2 bout against former WEC champion Paulo Filho at Revel in Atlantic City, N.J. on Saturday, March 23.
“Paulo Filho is one of the top middleweights in the world.” ”I am taking him very seriously,” said Branch.
Filho is a highly experienced opponent; a former WEC middleweight champion, with 23 wins coming from over a decade spent as a professional. However, a career plagued by controversy and drug abuse left Filho contemplating retirement in 2011.
Despite prior inconsistencies, Branch refuses to underestimate Filho’s potential “I am treating this fight as if [Filho] was still in Pride (Fighting Championships).”
The fight presents Branch an opportunity he refuses to take for granted.
“I have trained very hard. This is one of the longest training camps,” he said. “I’ve fought dangerous fighters in the past, and I’ve lost,” said Branch “But I am ready to make the next step, do big things and make some noise.”
Branch has been training with retired MMA legend and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Renzo Gracie, the same man who awarded Branch his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. According to Branch, however, fighting runs much deeper than just training.
The brother of 2001 United States amateur light middleweight champion Sechew Powell, Branch has always been around fighting. “I grew up fighting. In the streets, and with my brothers,” said Branch. “I always liked fighting.”
This way of life helped mold Branch into the type of fighter he is today. A highly athletic pedigree and a lifelong love for the sport naturally influences the way Branch train.
“I always train hard. I am a workhorse,” he said. “I have a full skill set and am a martial artist above all else. I work on everything, every week,” said Branch. “I am training to be a champion.”
Words of confidence, which are not to be mistaken for arrogance. When asked if he had anything to say to Filho, Branch replied “It’s an honor.”
Branch explained how he is preparing himself for Filho’s aggressive nature and world class submission skills. In addition to his belt rank, Branch is a three-time Pan American championship winner, but still must recognize the skill possessed by Filho. Branch made sure to note that, while he is basing much of his game off of these factors, he is entering the fight fully prepared for anything unknown.
“I never judge a fighter,” Branch said. “You have to adjust.”
This openness to change and flexibility is further represented by Branch’s stance on future fights.
“I am willing to fight anyone,” “I’m willing to go and scrap” said Branch speaking on possible future matchups.
Branch made it very clear that, while still maintaining his career goals, he is ready for his fight against Filho “I am not looking past him,” he said.
Focused and prepared for the upcoming bout, Branch was asked about his predictions for how the fight will end.
His simple response was “with the ref pulling me off of him, whether it be submission, or knockout it doesn’t matter”
Focused on the near future, Branch enters his March 23 bout with a clear head and primed physique. Coming off a big win at the first WSOF, Branch is at a pivotal point in his fighting career. One of the biggest matches of his life looms on the horizon, and yet Branch still manages to remain modest. Any interpretation of this veteran’s humility as weakness would be misguided, as the true sights of Branch are set on greatness.