On Saturday night, in the co-main event of UFC Ottawa, Derek Brunson picked up a decision victory over Canada’s Elias Theodorou.
Mid-way through this fight, Brunson hoisted his foe into the air and slammed him into the canvas. We’ve seen similar slams in the Octagon before — and once with disastrous consequences.
In 2018, Jarred Brooks attempted a similar maneuver on Jose Torres and wound up knocking himself out. Derek Brunson saw this fight, and wanted to avoid the same fate when he slammed Theodorou.
“That was my exact thought,” Brunson said post-fight (via MMA Fighting). “I picked him up, I locked my hands, I was like, oh, that kid—I think it was Jarred Brooks or something like that—he went, he swung, he dunked him and knocked himself out. I was like, if I knock myself out, it’s gonna be real bad. So I swung his legs and I swam back over and I got north-south position.
“But yeah, I wanted to make sure I didn’t knock myself out. That wouldn’t look good. I would have made ‘Sportscenter Not Top 10’ or whatever. That would have been bad.”
In the end, Derek Brunson avoided disaster, and got the victory he was hoping for. He’s quite proud of his performance, particularly because it showed off parts of his game we don’t often see.
“It’s funny, I’m a knockout guy. In my previous wins, I think all of my last seven wins I got were knockouts in the first round,” Brunson said. “To come out here and get a decision after a rough year, it feels good. Now I’ve got that built in my mind. I can go the distance with a guy who’s known for cardio, who moves around a lot, pretty much had to chase a little bit. So I can take my time and be patient, I know I can knock guys out still.
“You’ve got to keep evolving. I heard him saying all week it’s checkers vs. chess,” Brunson said. “I’m a smart guy, I like to think of myself as a smart guy, but sometimes I go out there and do a lot of dumb stuff. So to actually come back and get a smart win, I feel really good about that.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/5/2019.