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WSOF 30: David Branch wants to 'stomp the sh*t out' of Clifford Starks tonight, predicts knockout, talks Conor McGregor

World Series of Fighting

World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 30: "Branch vs. Starks" takes place TONIGHT (Sat., April 2, 2016) from inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a main event between Middleweight champion David Branch against Clifford Starks.

For Branch, WSOF 30 is a long-awaited chance to defend one of the two world titles he currently holds. His last defense at Middleweight was WSOF 15 in Nov. 2014 where he defeated Yushin Okami via fourth round technical knockout.

It's not as though Branch was inactive between then and now, though. He willingly moved up one weight class to enter the inaugural WSOF Light Heavyweight tournament, and two fights later, he had a second belt for his trophy case.

Now it's time for Branch to make that cut to 185 pounds again and to face the challenge of "Big Cat" Clifford Starks. Starks is on a five-fight win streak and undefeated in WSOF, but Branch can say the same and his streak is two fights longer.

Branch recently chatted with MMAmania.com about headlining WSOF 30 in "Sin City" for a long-awaited defense of the Middleweight title. Starks said no one was worthy to challenge before him, so I asked Branch for his response.

"At that time when I was going for my campaign at 205 he was paying attention to me I really wasn't paying attention to him, you know? So maybe he was checking out the roster a little harder than I was. I think (since) the last guy that I fought, Yushin Okami, in the last year, there hasn't been an influx of talent that I needed to fight (for) the whole of 2015 at 185. So yeah I think that he's right. Somebody had to step and they had to go through the pecking order to see who was going to be able to fight the champ."

Branch seems to think Starks lucked his way into becoming the contender by beating someone who already was.

"Y'know he fought at 205 a couple of times and he beat those guys, and (then) he fought at 185 and beat a guy in Krasimir Mladenov who had a winning streak in WSOF and seemed to be the next guy for me to fight but Clifford knocked him off, know what I'm saying? Oh his streak is definitely coming to an end. Definitely coming to an end. I think he knows. If he doesn't know I'll have to prove it in front of the world and I don't have a problem doing that."

To hear Branch tell it, Starks was a man with a bug reach (78 inches) who could run over Mladenov by cutting to 185 pounds. And he believes Mladenov may ultimately be too small for the weight class.

"His last performance with Mladenov, I got a chance to look at it, and I really wasn't impressed. Y'know Krasimir he's a little guy, he really shouldn't be fighting at (1)85 in my opinion. He's a tough Bulgarian guy, I've got nothing but respect for him, I'm not saying he's a shitty fighter. I just think that he's a little bit too small for 85 and that worked out for Clifford really good. He was able to beat down on a man with T-Rex arms."

On paper Branch gives up a little bit of range with a 76 inch reach, but he's taller by three inches at 6'1" and he's brimming with "big man" confidence for this fight.

"Now he's the smaller man. Now he's the shorter man with the shorter reach and I'm going to be doing a lot of that to him. I'm gonna fight him like he's a little guy, you know? I'm not going to go in there with all of this big respect for him and fight him that way and turn him into something that he's not. I know exactly what he is, I know exactly what he's in front of me for, and I gotta stomp the shit out of him. That's the bottom line with that."

Branch has gone the extra step of calling his shot for how this fight will end. He's either setting Starks up for a swerve or thinks he's the new "Mystic Mac" of the sport.

"I didn't forget what I said on September 18th. I told everybody, I told the world I was gonna knock him out -- and I meant that y'knahmean? So I don't care who's worthy, and who's not worthy, it's his time to go to sleep. Know what I'm saying? It's time to go to sleep. I'm going to put him to sleep."

Conor McGregor tried to become a two weight class champ like Branch but lost his original opponent at Lightweight then lost his replacement opponent at Welterweight. I asked Branch if McGregor bit off more than he could chew.

"Conor's great for the sport, you know what I mean? I personally like him even though he talks a bit much and stuff like that but that's why he can sell (PPV buys) man, y'know? He tried to do something and he's pulling a bank job right now, y'know? He's making money. I can't say anything bad about the guy. He went up there he went to a bigger weight class (and) they put him up against a guy that on paper wasn't going to produce that blunt force trauma."

Paper ultimately means as little as the betting slips that were thrown away by McGregor's fans after the fight.

"What Nate Diaz does is he strings together punches just like his older brother, and he's got the same jiu-jitsu and people underrate that. So (McGregor) went out there and he lost to that, and I think he'll go back to the drawing board and get better. But, yeah I'm the only guy (with two titles) right now man. I've got a big target on my back."

Starks will try his best to find that target and hit it later this evening on NBC Sports Network.

The complete audio of our interview is below and complete fight coverage is HERE on MMAmania.com.

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