Last year, Derek Brunson squared off with hard-hitting Aussie Robert Whittaker and it didn’t exactly go his way. He came out like a man possessed, desperately wanting to get his fifth knockout in a row and the title shot that would come with it. Instead, he got his lights turned off by Robert Whittaker and the rest is history. Now Whittaker has an interim middleweight belt and will be waiting to unify against either Michael Bisping or Georges St-Pierre. It’s a loss that still haunts Brunson, who still believes he has what it takes to get the W against the interim champ.
“I like to be aggressive, I like to finish fights. But I’ve been doing a better job of finding that balance. I’m a very smart guy also, when it comes to learning how to be more strategic and not pretty much destroy your hand in one fight. I think the one fight that cost me the most was the [Robert] Whittaker fight when I was super aggressive, but you look at that fight, I had him rocked the whole time. I’m sure he knows I could put him away also, but you don’t want to put yourself in those fifty-fifty positions. Let your skills be on show. I still wanna keep my aggressive ways and let mu skills be on display.”
— UFC (@ufc) November 27, 2016
“It doesn’t piss me off. No disrespect to Whittaker, I know I can beat him. I was putting it on him, you know? I had him against the cage and I hurt him. He was very exhausted. He was just able to find the spot. He actually turned and ran a couple of times to get away. He was smart. He was able to catch me with a combo right in the eye with a jab and I blinked, and that’s when the kick came. It’s funny because I’ve never been in a situation when somebody was able to just, you know, I’ve never got hit in the eye, flush, I blinked, and then boom. He jabbed me in the eye, it was like an eye poke, when someone gets poked in the eye and ‘oh, I can’t see.’ I’m learning. Now I know to move back and regroup instead of trying to stay in, but I’ve never been in that position before in a fight.” — Derek Brunson speaking to MMA Fighting.
Although Derek Brunson got back into the win column with a quick knockout over Dan Kelly back in June, if he approaches his next opponent Lyoto Machida like he has some of his recent opponents then it won’t end well. Full-throttle aggressiveness mixes like oil and water with Machida’s reflexive counter-punching. Despite losing his last two and being out since 2015, Machida is still Machida and is capable of taking out Derek Brunson at UFC Sao Paulo in Brazil on Saturday.
— Dana White (@danawhite) October 27, 2017
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/27/2017.