At UFC 208, #8 ranked middleweight Derek Brunson will step into the Octagon with #7 ranked middleweight, former UFC middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva. The fight is one that has drawn the attention of MMA fans, who are eager to see Brunson and Silva step into the Octagon for a fight that has the stylistic makings of a thrilling scrap.
Since signing with the promotion in 2012, Brunson has been on a tear, going 7-2 over the course of the past five years. In 2014, Brunson suffered the first defeat of his UFC career at the hands of Yoel Romero in a fight he was arguably winning. After out-striking Romero, and taking the Olympic wrestler down three times throughout the first two rounds, Brunson was TKOd in the third round. Fortunately for the All-American Wrestler, he bounced back in dominant fashion, going on a 5-fight win streak that saw him finish four of the wins in the very first round. On the cusp of a title shot in 2016, Brunson stepped into the Octagon with streaking middleweight Robbie Whittaker in a scrap that was promoted to the main event just weeks before the fight. The fight proved to be a thrilling one, however Brunson was TKOd in the first round. While the top ranked middleweight has never made excuses for the loss, he admits that the experience of going from a 3-round fight to a 5-round fight threw him off:
“Fighting in Melbourne, I like Melbourne, but that was ridiculous. It threw me off my training camp so bad. I had to leave pretty much 10 days early. I got there, I was tired, I didn’t work out like the first two or three days, I just kind of walked around the city. My body wasn’t up for working out, so it just threw me off. I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be. No excuses, but I definitely didn’t like that. I learned from that, so I learned what it takes to do that big time, to fight overseas or whatever. But it was definitely a different experience that I wasn’t used to, and had me off for sure.”
Now, ahead of his fight with Silva, Derek Brunson hopes to return to title contention with a win over the former champ:
“In my opinion, I think middleweight is the best division in the UFC, in all of MMA. You got former champs, and just historical names, and one through fifteen, it’s stacked. But a win over Anderson Silva, who is considered the best of all time by many people, is just going to give my name that much more name value.”
“When I get the win over Anderson Silva, yeah everybody’s going to be looking. That’s the guy who set the bar for the sport, carried the sport for so long, now you have a new guy that’s ready to make waves, and make a name for himself.”
Ahead of the fight, UFC President Dana White has admitted that Silva is only one or two wins away from a middleweight title shot. While Silva is looking to return to the win column and move one step closer to a title shot, Derek Brunson has other plans:
“I have nothing to do with that, I just know that, if he loses, he’s definitely not going to be one or two away, so I’m definitely going to take him out of the title talk and get my name back in the title talk. I was that guy that was, having finished Robert Whittaker in the first, had I would’ve done that, I believe I would’ve gotten the next title shot after Bisping and Romero. Either way I was one fight away, so just looking to put my name back in the picture.”
Of course, with White saying Silva is one or two wins away from a title shot, Derek Brunson knows he too could be thrown into the title mix with a win over Silva:
“Yeah, for sure. Everybody always wants to play that card, everybody’s always looking for a title shot, title shot equals more money. So of course, Anderson’s focused on fighting for the title, getting it back, but also he knows what’s up. He knows who is standing in front of him, what’s at stake. So just like me, I’m looking at it the same way he looking at it, which is, every fighter in that top 10 is one or two away from a title shot. Someone could get injured who has a title fight, boom you’re right there.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/4/2017.