At UFC 208 next weekend, middleweight contender Derek Brunson will step into the Octagon to fight former UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in a highly anticipated matchup that is guaranteed to produce fireworks.
While fighting a legend like Silva may seem like a daunting task to some, Brunson is very aware of what his strengths are, as well as what Silva’s strengths are going into the fight.
“I feel faster than Anderson, I’m stronger than Anderson, my wrestling’s better, my cardio is good. I can grind, I don’t think Anderson can grind with me. I can overwhelm people like that. His advantage would be he’s a veteran fighter, he has very tricky striking. Those are my advantages, and that’s where he’s good at.”
Silva is currently riding a 2-fight losing streak, however that doesn’t tell the whole story. In his first loss following his suspension, Silva controversially dropped a unanimous decision to Michael Bisping in London, where he nearly finished ‘The Count’ at the end of the third round with a flying knee. Ultimately the bout continued and Bisping won the unanimous decision. In his most recent fight, Silva stepped in for Jon Jones at light heavyweight against Daniel Cormier on just 48 hours notice, going the distance with the champ in a 3-round affair. While some say Silva is on the decline, Derek Brunson doesn’t see it that way:
“I don’t really look at it like that to be honest, and I don’t really think that’s the accurate look at the situation. If Anderson Silva comes out there and does what he did to Chris Weidman and put his chin out there, I’m quick enough to tag him. I hit harder than Chris Weidman so I’m going to knock him out. He won’t do that with me, Anderson’s smart, he’s a very high IQ fighter, and he knows if he has the speed advantage he can drop his hands a little bit, but I heard him in an interview saying ‘I’ve got to be smart with Derek, he’s quick.’ So he’s going to fight me the best that he possibly can, and he’s lost fights, but if you look at those fights they’re close decisions.”
“There’s a lot of factors that play into his losses, and I’m not really looking into any of them, I’m looking for him to come and be the best Anderson Silva he can, and very game, and it’s going to be my job to put him out.”
“I realize where I’m better at, that’s one thing for sure, and I’m going to be smarter than I was in my previous fight. The fight starts on the feet, so I have to strike with him, that has to be a factor. We’re going to go out there and take the fight wherever it goes and look to be dominating, and I’m always looking to finish guys. I’m not one of these guys that’s trying to set the UFC record for most minutes spent in the cage.”
As far as his keys to winning the fight, and a prediction, Brunson stated:
“This fight right here, I just gotta be smart. Be smart, get my hand raised, onto the next, and look to build for that future.”
“I just see myself being dominant and then getting my hand raised. I don’t really know what round, or when, or where it’s going to end. The fight is always dictated off how the other person comes out also, but I see myself getting my hand raised and being dominant in doing so.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/4/2017.