UFC middleweight David Branch believes he’s sorted out the distractions he suffered before his last fight, learning to take the focus off what he cannot control.
Wilmington, DE — When David Branch returns to action at UFC Philadelphia, the second UFC on ESPN show in the promotion’s new U.S. broadcast deal, he’ll arguably have a bigger spotlight on him than in his last fight, at UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden. That’s due to the fact that Branch’s fight, airing on the flagship ESPN station, has been slotted in as the evening’s co-main event. A former two-division champ (middleweight and light heavyweight) in the WSOF, Branch in taking on the talented Jack Hermannson.
He’ll be doing it, hopefully, without the distractions that plagued him in his last fight. Those, Branch explained to media members including Cageside Press at the UFC Philadelphia media day on Wednesday.
The last fight, of course, was Jared Cannonier at UFC 230. “Not to take anything away from my opponent, he beat me, it was a beautiful right hand he landed on the inside, found the opening,” Branch said of the loss. But, he pointed out, “emotionally, I was just not there. I felt it during the walk. I was trying to get that fire. It’s not that I lost the fight, it was so much happening during the lead-up. There was a lot of things I was going through personally, a lot of things I was going through with family.” Plus an opponent change.
“It’s a learning process, you have to remain focused no matter what things are happening, because life can come at you at any time,” he added.
Referring to nights like that as an “emptiness,” he explained it as, “you’re just kind of in a limbo state. You’re not reacting, you’re not on the task.” At UFC 230, Branch said “I was thinking about the failures, what if I lose my ranking, this guy’s not ranked, I’ve got nothing to win. I thought about all of those things instead of just thinking about the task at hand, which is the most important thing.”
“I’ve been in a lot of fights, and I’ve been through things like that in sparring sessions,” he continued. “For me, I just went into automatic pilot, and I just was fighting. And that’s not the way I fight. I like to use my brain. I like to be exciting, go for devastating finishes, but also use intelligence first. That wasn’t the most intelligent approach [against Cannonier].”
The big question, then, is how he tunes it all out. Which seems to be recognizing that “I don’t have any control over those things. I only can focus on the things that I have control over.”
Which would include “my preparation, how I train, how I eat, how I sleep, the people that I surround myself [with], my coaches. These are the things that I have control over. These things ultimately manifest into greater things. I can’t, two months before the fight, start thinking about what ifs. Because you can’t control those things.”
Branch has tackled the issues with his coaches. “These people have experience. They’re men who’ve been in the game, they’ve received punches, they’ve been under the stress of combat. They understand. They’re able to relate and translate these things to me, and I’m receptive to them.”
Cannonier has moved on to a match-up with Anderson Silva in May. Branch, meanwhile, looks to right the ship against Hermannson at UFC Philadelphia this Saturday.