Raleigh, NC – Derek Brunson is excited about the UFC’s recent events in the state of North Carolina. The native North Carolinian owns Brunson’s MMA and Fitness in Wilmington NC and has been actively lobbying to get the UFC to visit the Tar Heel state more often. Brunson still has his sites set on the UFC Middleweight title just as he did when he first entered the promotion. Brunson’s next fight will be against Edmen Shahbazyan who is an undefeated 11-0 fighter. And while he wasn’t part of the UFC Raleigh card, he was on hand for the festivities.
Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press, Brunson observed that “Edmen is a young, reckless, confident guy. And it’s kind of funny because I remember being that age and being where he’s at — and just having hype behind me, so I know what it feels like.” Derek entered the UFC way back in 2012 at 28 years old with a record of 9-2. Much has changed since then and Brunson has been in the UFC’s Middleweight Top 10 for a few years and on multiple occasions been just a single win away from a title shot. Now 36 years old the tables have turned for Brunson as he now welcomes potential top contenders to the upper tiers of the 185lbs division within the UFC.
Brunson had a rough 2018 after not only losing two fights but also being stopped in the first round of both of these bouts. But things are a lot different now, he says. “I think I got a solid situation. I switched my training up over the past year and a half at Hard Knocks down in Florida, and we have a good group of guys who are trying to get each other better.” Since his stoppage loss to Israel Adesanya in late 2018 Brunson has definitely looked much improved. Thanks in part to the training move to Florida, Brunson logged two unanimous decision victories against Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch who had combined records of 29-3 when they lost to Derek.
“MMA is so great and everybody loves it because nobody runs it per se. The fighters don’t run it,” expressed Brunson. “Boxing lost its luster, people killed the whole sport because the boxers started running boxing.” Derek made a valid point when speaking about his former opponent Israel Adesanya and defending his belt against Yoel Romero, despite the fact that the Cuban is coming off of two consecutive losses. If fighters are allowed to pick there own match-ups then inevitably they will try to ensure they have the best records possible, likely resulting in postponing most of the matches that the fans want to see. Brunson pointed ou that having the ranking system is something that he likes because it makes the match-ups “justified”.
Derek also went on to say that despite the recent rash of UFC middleweights moving up to light heavyweight and abandoning their excessive weight cuts, he will not be one of them. Despite admitting that he has considered moving up in weight, mostly while in the actual act of making the cut, Brunson still likes the middleweight division stating,”I come from wrestling so I’m used to cutting weight. Me in my best shape, focused, grinding, I think is at 185- is where I feel the best at.”
Derek Brunson faces Edmen Shahbazyan on the main card of UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero, Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs live on Pay per view.