Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ufc Star Branch Sticks to Business Keeps Focus on Money, New School, Then Foe

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ufc Star Branch Sticks to Business Keeps Focus on Money, New School, Then Foe

Article excerpt

There's no sentimental symbolism to David Branch's Sept. 16 fight against Luke Rockhold, no deeper meaning that pushes the mixed martial artist as he tirelessly trains.

"It symbolizes money," Branch, 35, said Tuesday. "That's it. That's all it is."

His words might seem cynical, but Branch's mindset highlights a certain level of awareness. He's not an actor in a morality play; he's an independent contractor in a ruthless business, and, above all else, Branch sees himself as a businessman.

But that doesn't mean he's devoid of motivation or a clear objective. Having returned to the UFC earlier this year and coming off a win in his most recent fight, Branch knows exactly what he wants to accomplish when he enters the cage at PPG Paints Arena for the headlining bout of UFC Fight Night.

"I don't think this fight right here I'm fighting is going to be a lot harder than some of the fights I've had," he said. "It's really nothing to me. I'm going to go in there and do what I've got to do. I'm going to hurt this kid, and that's it."

Not only does the bout pit two of the middleweight division's top-10 fighters against each other - Rockhold is No. 3 and Branch No. 9 - but it's an opportunity for Branch to add to an impressive resume.

A pro fighter for the past 10 years, Branch has a 21-3 MMA record and has won his past 11 bouts, his most recent loss coming in May 2012. He spent much of the past five years competing in the World Series of Fighting, an MMA promotion now known as the Professional Fighters League. There, he became the rare participant to win and later defend title belts in two weight classes, middleweight and light heavyweight.

But Branch longed for more. A former UFC competitor, he knew that organization offered more money and would satiate his competitive desire to fight at the sport's highest level.

Moved by that belief, he relinquished his two titles and was granted his release from the World Series of Fighting in February, eventually making his way back to the UFC.

In his first UFC bout in more than six years, Branch defeated Krzysztof Jotko, currently the UFC's No. …

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