clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC Fight Night 128 results from last night: David Branch vs Thiago Santos fight recap

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Sterling vs Johns Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight veterans David Branch and Thiagos Santos squared off last night (Sat., April 21, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 128 from inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Branch was in a difficult position last night. Clearly talented enough to belong as a top 10 member but without the signature win necessary to break into the title mix, the former two-division World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion was a bit stuck. Worse still, he was faced with a seriously violent up-and-comer. “Marreta” has been around the UFC for a while now, picking up highlight reel finishes but occasionally falling apart, too. He seems to have hit his stride in the last couple years though, resulting in four straight stoppage victories, a ranking next to his name, and a higher level of competition last night.

As expected, Santos came out and looked to maintain range, targeting his opponent’s lead leg. Branch tried to box his way into the clinch, but Santos avoided the early attempts. Interestingly, Santos’ recent fights have been characterized by insane aggression, but the Brazilian was patient in this one.

A couple minutes into the fight, Santos was the only man having success. He was digging into the thigh and calf, and it was clear that the kicks were having an impact. Suddenly, none of that mattered anymore, as Branch threw an overhand right that came inside the arc of Santos’ wide hook.

The punch connected clean across the jaw, and Santos was out.

There’s a reason Branch found so much success in WSOF, and it wasn’t just the level of competition. Branch’s boxing has improved a ton of the years, and he finally sees the fruits of his labor with a massive knockout win here.

The fight wasn’t going his way, and Branch admitted himself that his left leg was hurting badly in the post-fight interview. A lot of fighters collapse once the damage to the leg begins to build, but Branch once again proved his “tough veteran” status. He never diverted from the game plan of closing range past the kicking distance, and that eventually resulted in the crushing right hand.

This was a big win for Branch, one that solidified his position as a relevant Middleweight in the title hunt. It’s also far and away the best victory of his UFC career, a great finish that will get lots of play ahead of future fights.

Branch’s next opponent could range from Thiago Tavares to Derek Brunson maybe even to Chris Weidman. Middleweight is an odd division.

Santos did a lot well last night. His movement and patience were on point, and that distance allowed him to kick freely without getting countered often. Those kicks were adding up, and everything about Santos’ approach made sense. Unfortunately, Santos is just not a great boxer. His punches are looping and awkward though still powerful, and they’re often thrown just because rather than with intent to set techniques up. Branch was the far tighter puncher, and he only needed one opportunity to ruin all the good work that Santos had been doing.

Last night, David Branch scored a beautiful knockout on the strength of a heavy right hand. Who should the former WSOF kingpin face next?

For complete UFC Fight Night 128: “Barboza vs. Lee” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania