David Branch is 4-1 since being released by the UFC. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
WSOF Middleweight Tournament SemifinalDavid Branch (12-3, 2-0 WSOF) vs. Danillo Villefort (14-4, 1-0 WSOF)
The Matchup: Branch has earned a pair of unanimous verdicts in as many WSOF outings, but the Renzo Gracie protégé has been far from overwhelming. Especially perplexing was his last fight, a lopsided triumph over a listless Paulo Filho in which Branch was counting out his punches but still unable to earn a stoppage. That Branch is not a feared finisher is nothing new, as five of his last six victories have gone the distance.
Villefort, meanwhile, returned to the cage for the first time in more than a year and a half at WSOF 2, where he captured a hard-fought split decision over Kris McCray. In addition to his active ground game, the Blackzilians representative dropped McCray twice in the bout, once with a high kick and once with a punch. It is this overall aggression that should give him an edge against Branch, who generally favors a conservative approach.
While both combatants are Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, Branch might struggle to control the range against his Brazilian opponent. The Brooklyn native has a decent jab, but he rarely throws strikes in enough volume to discourage forward movement. Branch would like to use straight punches as a means to close distance and get takedowns, but even when this tactic is successful, he does not always take advantage of dominant positions as much as he should.
This all could prove to be detrimental against Villefort, who will not hesitate to attack on the feet. Villefort figures to have the edge in the clinch, as well, as he can land knees or rely on his judo to execute trips or throws. If Branch does get a takedown, Villefort’s ability to sweep or submit will limit his offense from above.
The Pick: Villefort is not necessarily the most consistent commodity, and if Branch can counter effectively when his opponent rushes forward and force him to work from his back, a decision could be his. However, Villefort’s willingness to engage and take chances gives him more ways to score points. Villefort wins by decision.
Next Fight » Jesse Taylor vs. Elvis Mutapcic