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WSOF 23: No 'bullsh*t' Teddy Holder is 'different,' doesn't fear David Branch

Lucas Noonan/WSOF

In one of the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) surprises of 2015, the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) tournament to crown a Light Heavyweight champion got reshuffled right before it began. And Teddy Holder capitalized with an upset win over Thiago Silva.

Holder now stands one just fight away from being the inaugural WSOF 205-pound champion. His professional MMA career dates back to 2008, but for numerous casual fans, it may feel like it started in March.

The WSOF four-man Light Heavyweight tournament to crown the promotion's first ever champion got off to an inauspicious start. Silva was originally scheduled to face Ronny Markes, while Vinny Magalhaes was scheduled to face Matt Hamill; however, neither of those bouts ever happened.

When the dust settled, several fighters were disqualified either medically or contractually, and "reserve bout" fighter Teddy Holder found himself thrust into the spotlight in the co-main event of WSOF 19. He took full advantage of the opportunity with an upset win, delivering a TKO of Thiago Silva two minutes into round one.

He's had to wait six months (and a few more tournament changes) for this moment, but at WSOF 23 on Sept. 18, 2015, Holder finally gets to prove finishing Silva was no fluke. He'll have to beat Middleweight champion David Branch to do it, though.

Holder recently spoke with MMAmania.com about the huge opportunity coming up for him at WSOF 23:

"I feel good man. I'm just doing some last minute stuff to fine tune everything for the last couple of weeks and then I'm gonna head out to Phoenix again."

It'll be deja vu for Holder to fight Branch in the same venue where he earned the right to fight for the title, but it's a whole different ballgame now to face a man who already holds gold in another weight class.

"Nah I really didn't (expect Branch), but that's the way the chips fall, so it is what it is I guess. All these guys who were originally supposed to be in the tournament are great fighters anyway so, I guess it's a little bit different cause he's a champion already but all those guys are so good it didn't really matter too much anyways."

Branch is brimming with confidence heading into the fight, but Holder believes he has been consistently underrated his whole career. And maybe because he was finishing fights too quickly.

"Before that Silva fight, out of my nine professional fights, my average ring time was one minute 42 seconds. I don't fight a lot. All of my fights have ended in the first round, amateur and pro. I just don't bullshit. I like to fight."

Could you say Holder has a no-nonsense attitude toward MMA? Absolutely.

"I don't see (the point) of dancing around for a few minutes in the first round and feeling each other. Eventually you're gonna get hit so you might as well get it done."

And even though Branch scored a rarely seen Von Flue choke in his last fight, Holder is not the least bit intimidated by watching his technical submission of Jesse McElligott.

"I've gotten it in practice and stuff y'know. All you gotta do is let go of the head, especially when he gets in side control, but a lot of guys who don't jiu-jitsu well just keep holding on. A lot of people who do MMA are smart enough to let go of the head right then. Jesse obviously didn't know that. I don't want to try to sound hateful or nothin' but Jesse McElligott is not on my level. I know better than that."

Surprisingly, Holder doesn't even think his last performance against Silva was that good. He believes that the improvements he's made in the last six months make him virtually impossible to scout.

"A lot of people haven't seen what I can do. I have a lot more tricks in the bag than I've used. You can't really get a lot of film on me to gameplan. And by the time you do watch the film -- like the last one -- I was totally a different fighter in my last fight than my last fight before that. I looked crappy honestly in that Thiago fight, but that's what 19 months of ring rust do to you I guess. But, yeah you can't study me too much so that's always a good thing."

On September 18th we'll find out if David Branch has found enough film and done enough homework to counteract the hard hitting Teddy Holder, or if Holder has another upset in the making.

"I like being the underdog. I'm used to it. I like surprising people, coming out and they're not really prepared for what I have to give 'em."

Audio of our interview with Holder is below and complete WSOF 23 coverage is right here at MMAmania.com.

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