Derek Brunson makes his PFL debut at the PFL Championship this month on November 24, and while he comes in as a very familiar name, he’s very much the new kid in class.
“It feels like that, as a kid going to a new school,” the now-former UFC middleweight contender told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview recently. “I’m excited. It’s a new journey, new adventure. I was with the UFC so long, things started to become repetitive. And now i have a new goal, new venture, new promotion, fresh start, and I’m ready to go out there and get it started.”
What led to Brunson’s rather sudden exit from the UFC and signing with the PFL? The veteran actually had a fight booked when news broke that he was making the jump. Brunson (23-9) touched on that without going too far into the details.
“I was with the promotion [UFC] for a long time, and I fought all the tough fights. So it was like ‘okay what are we doing here, where am I going?’ I was in a position to get title shots a couple times, and I’m not blaming anybody that I didn’t, per se, but I feel like some of my streaks deserved it. I was one two five-fight win streaks.”
With the move to the PFL comes a new weight class for Derek Brunson. The league does not have middleweight, so he’ll be heading up 20 pounds to light heavyweight.
It’s a move Brunson had considered previously, he revealed.
“I was thinking about it. The weight cuts got pretty tough, I go out there and put in tough camps, long camps, I’m in great shape and then I go out there and fade. And it’s like ‘why are we fading?’ It’s just one of those things, moving up to 205 will be better, won’t have to worry about cutting a lot of weight and I can just focus on the fight.”
Derek Brunson will make his debut against a former two-time PFL welterweight champ in Ray Cooper III, in a 185lb contest. It will likely be his last stop at 185lbs for some time; as for Cooper, Brunson is focused more on himself.
“I’m not really worried about what he brings to the table,” stated Brunson. “I feel like what I bring to the table is a lot greater. I just got to go out there and do me, have fun, and get my hand raised.”
One other fight Brunson will have his eye on come November 24 is the light heavyweight finale, given he’ll join the division next year. That’s set to be contested between Josh Silveira and Impa Kasanganay.
“Impa is one of my teammates, we’ve trained together several times, he’s fighting in the final. So yeah I’m always watching, seeing what’s going on, seeing how the division shapes up. There’s a lot, not a lot but there’s a couple steps to get to the finals next year. You gotta win your first two fights and then you gotta win your third fight and you go into the final. Just one fight at a time, get my hand raised and just keep doing it.”
Watch our full interview with new PFL athlete Derek Brunson above.