David Branch understands that a large part of MMA is putting on exciting fights for the fans, but he’s not going to jeopardize his bottom line to do it.
On Monday, the 35-year-old middleweight contender appeared on The MMA Hour to discuss his upcoming main event meeting with former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC Pittsburgh on Saturday. It’s a huge opportunity for Branch to show that he’s not just a legitimate contender, but someone who can potentially draw eyeballs to an organization in dire need of stars with marquee names like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones currently in limbo.
While Branch does intend to put together a more convincing performance against Rockhold than the split decision nod he earned over Krzysztof Jotko this past May, he’s not going to apologize for the methodical, cautious approach that has kept him unbeaten in 11 straight appearances and previously earned him both the middleweight and light heavyweight titles in the World Series of Fighting promotion.
“No matter what, even if your fight is f**king boring or not if you’re the champion then you’re getting paid,” Branch said. “Obviously, you can take more risks when you’re at that level because you’re involved in pay-per-view buys, so you’re going to be able to be more exciting. Who in their right mind wants to be that exciting when you risk losing half your f**king money but you’re going out there for all the f**king risk. You’re going out there for all the danger and then your ass gets f**ked up because you trying to be exciting and you get half your f**king money.
“And they say, ‘Good job, son. We’ll put you back on.’ Get the f**k outta here, I’m not going for that, hell no. That’s not good business for me. That doesn’t sound like a good business transaction.”
Branch was able to finish UFC veterans Yushin Okami and Jesse Taylor while competing for the WSOF, but he has still gone to the scorecards more often than not over the past five years. His inability to finish Jotko was one of the reasons that Rockhold stated on a recent episode of The MMA Hour that he believes Branch has cracks in his confidence, a claim that Branch didn’t outright deny.
“I do doubt myself sometimes,” Branch said. “You know what I doubt? I doubt sometimes — I sit there and I’m such an analytical person, that when I get into these fights, I make it a chess match when sometimes it doesn’t have to be. I also have another side of me, it comes out in some fights at certain times, and sometimes I need to just blank out and go out there and kill somebody.
“Sometimes my carefulness makes me follow game plans, strategy, those kinds of things. But as far as doubt in my abilities, and my conviction, and my techniques, I don’t think so at all.”
The last thing that Branch is going to do is let fan perception affect his preparation and tactics when it’s time to get down to business. Branch likens himself to a championship-level boxer who might not be going toe-to-toe for 12 rounds, but who walks away with the victory after the final bell rings.
“Do you ever f**king see Andre Ward’s fights and when he wins, and they sit there and say how boring he is, do you think that that motherf**ker gives a f**k? Hell no,” Branch said. “Bernard Hopkins has been getting accused of being boring for years. I hate to take it to boxing, but these are combat athletes, nobody gives a f**k about that. I’m concerned about the motherf**king W. My record is 21-3 and you think that’s attributed to me giving a f**k about people, f**king how they feel about me fighting? Hell no, I’m going out there and I’m going to f**king win.
“I’m going to win, I’m not a circus elephant, I’m not one of these f**king kids out there trying to please some other motherf**ker who never f**king balled up his fists in his life to do a g**damn thing. I’m gonna win by any means necessary. And yes, I want to put on the value and entertainment, but that’s just depending on the style of the fight. You can’t control that.”