David Branch turned the tables on Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 128 last weekend, winning via knockout 2:30 into the opening round.
It was an eye-opening performance for the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product, who was facing an opponent with four consecutive KO/TKO victories in the Octagon under his belt. Branch rebounded nicely from a second-round stoppage loss to Luke Rockhold last September and has now won 12 of his last 13 fights overall.
The 36-year-old went 2-2 during a brief stint in the Las Vegas-based promotion from 2010 to 2011, but he didn’t truly blossom until a 10-bout undefeated run in World Series of Fighting saw him capture titles at both middleweight and light heavyweight.
Don’t expect Branch to try and duplicate that feat in the UFC, however. During an appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, he made it emphatically clear that he’s staying put at 185 pounds.
“Hell no, I’m not going up there with them big mother---ers,” Branch said. “I’m not going up there. You see how big this mother---er was against me just that Saturday night? You think I’m gonna go up to 205? They hit a lot harder. There’s less grappling and it’s harder to take them down. You’re going to take more blows. I ain’t doing that.”
After his victory over Santos, Branch targeted the winner of the UFC 224 bout between Ronaldo Souza and Kelvin Gastelum.
“I’ve sent the message that I’m here. I defended my rank—rightfully so—and I’m looking to climb again,” he said Saturday. “I’ve got my eyes on the winner of Jacare and Gastelum. There are a lot guys ahead of me I’d like to fight, but I take it one step at a time.”