Tonight, at WSOF 20, organization middleweight champion, David Branch, was set to take on Ronny Markes in the second half of the four-man light heavyweight tourney. Markes experienced an extremely difficult weight cut and was forced to withdraw yesterday afternoon due to severe dehydration. Branch now makes his LHW debut vs. the 5-1 Jesse McElligott, an alternate the promotion had on standby for the tournament.
Bloody Elbow sat down with Branch a few days ago who discussed his plans for the future and his desire to be the first, active champion in two divisions. Here's what he had to say:
The pursuit of happiness...and titles
I'm not vacating anything. I plan to be the first active champion in two divisions. There have been two-division champions, and I can probably name them on one hand right now; Randy Couture, BJ Penn and Vitor Belfort. None of them have captured belts in two different divisions at the same time. Those guys will all end up in the Hall of Fame.
Right now I'm just focused on my legacy in the sport. I'm already the world champion for one of the top three promotions in the world. I want to fight the best in the world and present myself with the biggest challenges I can. Something that great fighters do is move up in the weight classes. We've seen Ben Henderson do it, we've seen Anderson Silva do it. We've seen a few guys do it.
Moving up a weight class
I walk around at about 240 pounds, at least that's where I was after the Yushin Okami fight. I had just had surgery and wasn't able to train the way I wanted, so that's how I ended up there. It was solid, but my standard walk weight is about 230 pounds, which is already pretty big, so a move up isn't a big physical change for me. I'm 6'1 with an 80" reach, so it made sense to me to try this tournament out.
I can't just fight anyone on the roster. I have to wait for guys to earn shots, so instead of just sitting around doing nothing, I decided to participate in the tourney. I wanted to challenge myself, and a fight at light heavyweight is right up my alley.
At first I thought I would just take one fight, but then it morphed into me wanting to win the whole thing. It's a switch that was flipped that can't be reversed now.
Currently, I'm on a three-fight deal with WSOF. I'm pretty happy here and they've been consistently doing right by me. At this point, it's about loyalty. I got my first taste of being world champion here, so I want to stick around for a little bit.
That said, I don't know what the future holds beyond that. I definitely want to fight the best guys in the world, so I don't know how that will influence my decision on where I go after I fulfill my contract, but for right now, I'm with WSOF and I want to represent them to the fullest capacity in a positive manner.
At the same time, I want to represent myself and build up my own brand. WSOF has given me the perfect platform to do that on. All I have to do is deliver, you know? It's a business.
David Branch vs. Jesse McElligott takes place tonight in the main event of WSOF 20 from the Foxwoods Casino & Resort. Please check your local television listings for time and channel.