WSOF 15 preview: Middleweight Championship David Branch versus Yushin Okami

WSOF 15 Middleweight Championship David Branch vs Yushin Okami
WSOF 15 Middleweight Championship David Branch vs Yushin Okami

On November 15, 2014 at WSOF 15 in Tampa, Florida,  David Branch will be defending his belt for the first time against former UFC title-challenger Yushin ”Thunder” Okami.

The event will take place on Sunday morning time in Asia. Here is the stream and broadcast schedule from the WSOF website.
 

David Branch (14-3)

The New York native fighting out of Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has rebuilt his career in the World Series of Fighting. David Branch has reeled off four straight victories and captured the WSOF Middleweight strap since losing a decision to current UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at Titan FC 22 back in 2012.

Branch has been with WSOF from the time it all started on November 3, 2012 at WSOF 1. He faced versatile striker Dustin Jacoby and battered him from distance, opening a cut over the left eye in the third round. Branch even showed glimpses of his improved wrestling with a few takedowns. The end result was a unanimous nod from all three judges. In similar fashion, in his next appearance at WSOF 2, he worked Paulo Filho with crisp boxing and some devastating ground and pound. The fight was not even close; it was almost stopped on a few occasions.

With two impressive wins against game opponents, Branch was selected for a four-man tournament to determine the first ever WSOF Middleweight Champion. At WSOF 5, Branch earned a lackluster clean sweep on the scorecards against Danillo Villefort by having good ground control and using dirty boxing against the cage. It was nothing to brag about but it got him into the finals of the tournament. However, when that date came he totally redeemed himself with a spectacular victory earning him the first title of his career. Branch made Jesse Taylor, an accomplished MMA veteran, look like an amateur by going to the ground and submitting him with a D’arce choke in less than two minutes of the first round.

 

Yushin Okami (30-8)

The Japanese legend is known to many as a long time veteran of the UFC, even getting a shot at the title against arguably the greatest fighter in the history of this sport in Anderson Silva. Even though his title aspirations did not end well, he still has a long list of accomplishments throughout his career.

Yushin “Thunder” Okami has many standout victories such as Hector Lombard, Alan Belcher (2x), Mark Munoz, and Nate Marquardt. Although he was not the most exciting fighter at that time, he got the job done against elite competition.

After the disappointing loss to the hands of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC Fight Night 28, surprisingly the UFC cut the top-ten middleweight from their roster. Looking to get back in the cage, Okami was searching for employment and that’s when the WSOF came a-calling. About a month after his release they signed him to debut at WSOF 9 against Svetlozar Savov.

In that contest, “Thunder” utilized his ground skills and sat in full mount controlling his opponent for most of the fight. Savov did a good job avoiding too much damage on his back; however, Okami just kept waiting until the time was right and locked in an arm triangle choke for the finish.

Branch vs Okami: Fight Analysis

Branch has displayed improved boxing in his last few fights. He does not really have that one-punch knockout power but he can overwhelm his opponents with volume and then go for the finish. He also is a black belt in jiujitsu under Renzo Gracie, hence he should not have any problems on the ground. The 33-year old American has four submission victories all via choke, so Okami needs to watch his neck when they hit the mat.

Okami, 33, has proven that his style of fighting is to use his dirty boxing and judo to overwhelm his opponents. Just like his counterpart, “Thunder” does not really have heavy hands ,so ground and pound is his best bet. Since he has ten wins via TKO, Okami will look to use his judo to clinch and then take down Branch to pummel his face until the ref stops the action.

Both these fighters are big for the middleweight division and the same age. While Okami is an inch taller, Branch has an inch longer reach. Okami is the bigger and probably the stronger fighter, but Branch is faster and more athletic. Both of them work better from the top position on the ground so whomever lands in that position, it will be his fight. Branch will definitely have the advantage on the feet because he possesses better footwork and uses the kicks in his arsenal. On the other hand, if Okami gets in close and clinches with Branch, then that’s where he will thrive.

This main event is for the title; therefore, I don’t see the champion wanting to give it away after just winning it, and Okami will be hungry to capture that elusive title strap that has been missing from his accolades.