Derek Brunson reveals conversation with Dana White following UFC release: “No ill will”

By Josh Evanoff - November 23, 2023

PFL middleweight contender Derek Brunson has discussed his exit from the UFC.

Derek Brunson

The longtime middleweight contender left the company following a knockout loss to Dricus du Plessis earlier this year. While Derek Brunson booked a UFC 295 return against Roman Dolidze, he was later released. In September, he was suddenly cut and signed with the PFL just days later.

Derek Brunson is now slated to fight Ray Cooper III at the PFL World Championship card this Friday. Furthermore, the wrestler plans to join the company’s 2024 light-heavyweight tournament in the pursuit of a million dollars. No longer a member of the UFC, he explained his exit in a recent interview.

Speaking to MMA Fighting, Derek Brunson explained that he just felt like he was treading water in the UFC. Needing a change of scenery and something to fight for, he later headed to the PFL. However, the middleweight contender holds no ill will toward his old home and even talked with Dana White following his release.

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Derek Brunson

Image Credit: @UFC/Instagram

“I think it was at the time that we both went our separate ways,” Derek Brunson explained. “I had a good run there but I guess where I’m at in my career, at my age, some of the things that go on there didn’t make sense for me… Getting up for these title eliminators when you’ve been in the game for a long time, just wasn’t motivating. That might have been some of the reason why I didn’t look so good in these past few fights that I was dominating.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

He continued, “Somebody asked Dana [White] something about me at the last card and Dana called me right after. He’s like ‘I didn’t hear what they said, it could have come across as weird but I wanted to let you know I wasn’t trying to slight you or anything like that.’ It was no animosity, no ill will.”

“I put in some hard work in the UFC. I don’t think what I’ve done can be duplicated. The UFC is a lot different from when I first joined. Only the baddest guys fought in the UFC. Now the UFC, they’re signing a lot of guys so they can build more guys up. It’s just bigger so they’ve got a lot more guys.”

What do you make of these comments from Derek Brunson? Are you excited for his PFL debut?