UFC Atlantic City’s David Branch Would Have Liked A Higher-Ranked Opponent, But Understands the System

David Branch has one key for his fight with Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City this weekend, and that’s to use his intelligence. And though Santos isn’t as highly ranked an opponent as he’d like, Branch knows he needs to defend his own position.

Atlantic City, NJ — UFC middleweight David Branch understands how the game is played. That much was clear from his appearance before the media on Thursday ahead of UFC Atlantic City this weekend. Branch is taking on Thiago Santos, a dangerous 185’er on a four fight winning streak. Yet it feels like a bit of a consolation prize: after all, Branch was supposed to have fought Yoel Romero earlier this year. Then Robert Whittaker pulled out of UFC 221, and Romero was booked against Luke Rockhold on the PPV in Perth, Australia.

Branch was suddenly the odd man out, losing his opponent, Romero, to the last man to have defeated David Branch in the octagon, Luke Rockhold. Cageside Press asked Branch, a former dual-division champion in the WSOF at middleweight and light heavyweight, about whether he’d have preferred a higher ranked opponent this weekend.

“Absolutely I was looking for a higher person,” Branch told us, “but at the same time, I’m still like a new guy in the UFC.” That, of course, discounts his earlier run in the promotion, from 2010 to 2011. Yet he has a point, as since returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he’s but two fights into his most recent tenure. “Regardless of the things I’ve done in the sport of MMA,” he continued, “I’ve gotta follow the protocol a little bit. There’s a lot of guys that have been fighting here a long time. I need to understand that I’m ranked in the top ten, and if I need to defend my spot like Rockhold defended his spot, then that’s something that I have to do.”

Speaking of Rockhold, the former champion in both Strikeforce and the UFC has been floating the idea of a move to light heavyweight recently. Having fought, and captured a title, in the weight class, what does Branch think of the idea?

“I wish him the best, you know?’ he said. “I wish him the best. He’s a big guy. When I fought him, I could feel that he could probably easily go up to 205, so I wish the best for him.”

As for his own fight this Saturday in Atlantic City, Branch singled out one particular key to victory: “Just use my intelligence. That’s my biggest weapon.” Elaborating later, Branch compared intelligence to a race car drive, making good decisions. That includes attacking weak spots, and avoiding his opponent’s strengths.

David Branch faces Thiago Santos on the main card of UFC Fight Night 128 this Saturday. The fights go down on Fox Sports 1, live from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.