Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at veteran Dave Branch as he returns to the UFC for the first time since 2011 to take on ninth ranked middleweight Krzysztof Jotko at UFC 211 in Dallas, Texas.  

David Branch

Hometown: Bronx, New York
Age: 35
Height: 6-foot-1
Reach: 76 inches
Weight Class: Middleweight
Camp: Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu
Career Record: 20-3
Key Wins: Vinny Magalhaes, Yushin Okami
Key Losses: Anthony Johnson, Rousimar Palhares

Background

A Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the renowned Renzo Gracie, Branch had a short stint in the UFC prior to making the move to World Series of Fighting. In WSOF, Branch rejuvenated his career by amassing a stunning 10-0 record while becoming a two-division champion, holding both the middleweight and light heavyweight belts. In an effort to challenge himself against the sport’s top fighters, Branch left World Series of Fighting in 2017 to sign with the UFC. 

Strengths

  • Underrated jab
  • Significant experience
  • Successful in making his fights ugly
  • Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Serviceable in all facets of MMA

Weaknesses

  • Lacks one punch knockout power
  • Not a natural finisher
  • Hittable when put on his back foot
  • Low offensive output

Fighter Grade

Offensive Striking: C+
Striking Defense: C-
Knockout Power: D
Athleticism / Speed: C-
Footwork: C+
Chin: C-
Offensive Wrestling: C+
Takedown Defense: C-
Submissions: B
Conditioning: C+
Intangibles: B-

Overall Grade: C+

Matchup with Krzysztof Jotko

A very intriguing middleweight matchup sees two-division WSOF Champion Branch makes his return to the UFC to take on surging prospect Jotko to open the Pay-Per-View portion of UFC 211. I expect this to be a closely contested fight. Neither fighter is a natural finisher and typically win by attrition whether by wearing an opponent out or by securing key takedowns to win. In some ways, they are quite similar despite Branch’s best asset being BJJ and Jotko’s being his left leg kick. A good portion of this fight will be fought in the clinch and against the cage. The winner will be the one who excels in the transitions in those exchanges. I see that being Jotko. The Polish middleweight is excellent transitioning out of the clinch and landing when he exits those exchanges. He also showed capable of reversing takedown attempts against a similar opponent in Thales Leites and finding top position. Furthermore, I see Jotko as having a higher striking output and in a close fight on paper I see that making him the victor more often than not. I’ll be looking at the live price on this fight as the first round will be a telling sign at the overall outcome. A good bet on this fight is the over 2.5 rounds total. Branch went to the fifth round in his last three World Series of Fighting title defenses while Jotko went to decision in four of his last five fights. Both fighters lack of consistent knockout power plays a major factor here as well. Even at -270, I still see there being some value in the line and being a parlay piece for this card. 

UFC Ceiling

David Branch has been on a roll outside of the UFC winning ten consecutive fights in World Series of Fighting. He’s shown an absolute resurgence in his ability and has really developed into an all-around fighter. He’s certainly a top 15 middleweight in MMA. His success against top ten opposition will depend on work rate and handling the striking power of the division’s top fighters. At 35 years of age, his skill set is clearly defined. It’s just a matter of how much he can achieve before father time sets in. 

Fight Film

Check out Branch in some of his most recent fights…

Branch vs. Vinny Magalhaes

Branch vs. Clifford Starks

 

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