Former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) dual-weight champion, David Branch, tonight (Sat., May 13, 2017) returned to the Octagon, battling Krzysztof Jotko in UFC 211’s pay-per-view (PPV) opener inside American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. And he wasn’t fed a cupcake, either, as Jotko had quietly compiled a five-fight win streak that dated back to late 2014.
Said streaked ended tonight, though, as Branch earned a split decision victory in what can best be described as a technically boring cautious clash.
Branch opened the action with sweeping kick and looping punch, both of which missed their marks. Jotko jumped in-and-out, attempting to gauge distance and find an opening to get in the game. Branch, however, timed a low kick perfectly and used it to score a takedown. Branch dropped some nice shots, particularly short elbows, from top position as Jotko wormed his way to the fence where he was able to get back to his feet. The two battled for position along the fence until Jotko was able to secure a takedown, but Branch was able to get back to his feet with a quickness. The two ended up back up against the fence and remained in essentially an upright stalemate until the round ended.
Jotko came out for the second round with a little more eagerness, perhaps frustrated with his lack of success in the opening round. He was able to close the distance and then attempt a spinning backfist, which glanced off Branch. Jotko was able to keep Branch guessing on the feet and eventually he ran into a short right hand as he pressed to connect with something. Midway through the round Branch secured a nice takedown, but Jotko immediately popped back up to his feet and then proceeded to land two nice left hands. Branch seemingly didn’t like those and tied up Jotko along the fence, prompting the referee to separate them almost instantly. Jotko uncorked a sweet spinning wheel kick, but it just barely clipped Branch, who once again secured a brief takedown before the second round came to a close.
Between rounds, Branch’s corner urged him to pick up the pace. And he did just that, attacking more with kicks and pressuring Jotko around the Octagon. The two got tied up along the cage again in a clinch as the crowd booed them, compelling the referee to once again intervene. Branch was finally able to score a solid takedown on the restart and angled for a choke, but Jotko was able to escape and get back to his feet. Jotko landed a nice knee-hook combination as the fight came to a close, as well as another straight right hand, but there was no visible impact.
It was a close fight, one that was void of any significant action or exciting moments. It was a technical match up that eventually resulted in a split decision in favor of Branch from the three judges sitting ringside. It was certainly not the performance that Branch wanted in his return to the Octagon, but he got the job done.