Branch returned to the UFC this past May, and worked his way to a split decision win over Krzysztof Jotko. The bout marked the first time Branch had competed in the Octagon since 2011, when he was submitted by Rousimar Palhares. Branch proceeded to go on 12-1 run, and win both WSOF’s middleweight and light-heavyweight belts.
Well, recently Branch had this to say, while discussing how his fight with the former UFC champ will go (quote via UFC.com):
“It depends on Rockhold,” Branch said. “I’m gonna bring it to him. He better fight back and he better bring it back. I’m going to take this fight to him because I know he can’t take it. I’m gonna put a tremendous amount of pressure on him and I’m gonna run this kid over.”
That’s quite the statement, and chances are, a lot of folks don’t feel the same way about tomorrow’s fight. After all, Rockhold is a ridiculously well rounded and dangerous fighter, who is looking to prove a point, after being taken out by Michael Bisping last summer.
But, people have underestimated Branch before, and he’s defeated many notable vets during his career. In the aforementioned story, the BJJ black belt also had this to say about the fact he’s turning 36 later this month.
“As far as my age, I’m not approaching 40 or anything,” Branch said. “I’m gonna be 36 and in four years I’ll be 40. People have this misconception about fighters, and we’ve seen fighters time and time again in their mid and late 30s go out and dominate the action. The champion in my division (Michael Bisping) is 38 years old. One of the most dangerous guys in the division (Yoel Romero) is 40. Anderson Silva is 42 years old. So come on. I feel like I’m right there.”
It’s a huge opportunity for Branch. If he can score the upset, then he’ll jump right into the title shot mix. UFC FN 116 will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.