When Strikeforce middleweight Derek Brunson headed to the eye doctor to get his pre-fight exam done, he definitely wasn’t expected the news he received on Tuesday.
The former Division II All-American knew going into his exam that his vision was definitely not his strongest asset, but he had never had problems being licensed in a state before to fight.
That was prior to Tuesday’s ruling by the Ohio State Athletic Commission.
“I took the fight on kind of short notice, a month or whatever, and whenever I took the fight my medicals were out of date, I had to a physical, blood work, and an eye exam. The eye exam was the last thing I could set up because you can’t go to a regular physician, you’ve got to go to an ophthalmologist,” Brunson explained when talking to MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday.
“I go to a place here in Albuquerque and he was like ‘you’ve got bad vision’ but I wear contacts and even if they get knocked out it’s still fine cause I can see good up close. So, after the eye exam they faxed the results over to our gym manager Ricky (Kottenstette) and Ricky faxed it to Melissa (at the UFC) and Melissa faxed it to the commission in Ohio. So the commission in Ohio looked at the eye exam and kicked it back and said we won’t allow him to fight because his eyes aren’t at a certain standard in case his contacts get knocked out.”
Fighters like Brunson are allowed to wear contacts during their bouts in Ohio, but the commission requires a certain grade from the eye exam just in case their contacts get knocked out during the fight.
Brunson’s eyesight was such that Ohio would not clear him to compete on the card next week in Columbus.
The news was obviously devastating to Brunson, who was on the verge of his biggest fight yet in Strikeforce, taking on former champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
“The most disappointing part is the last month or two months has been really rough on me. I came down here really didn’t have a fight lined up, my little girl got sick so I had to go back home and I was in the hospital with her for 5 days, made it back out here and had a month to prepare for Jacare, one of the toughest guys in the world,” said Brunson.
“Now, I’m in the best shape ever. This was just the best I ever felt, I was 100-percent confident in this fight. This could have been my best performance yet, but I’m just let down.”
Now that he has been pulled from the fight, Brunson is dedicated to getting his eyes fixed so he won’t run into this problem again. He’s been planning a time to get Lasik surgery to repair his eyes for sometime, but there’s no more waiting after what happened on Tuesday.
“I knew I was going to get Lasik’s surgery sooner or later, but it was one of those things I thought I’d have some down time between fights so I could get it, as opposed to right before a fight,” Brunson stated.
“The last thing we’re working on now is trying to get Zuffa to allow this Lasik’s place down here to be on my shorts and my banner for my next fight, and then in 10 days I should go ahead and get it done. Regardless if that’s not allowed, I’m still going to schedule it. I have to be 10 days out of my contract before I can get Lasik’s done, so 10 days from today I’m going to get Lasik and then I think it’s 5 days down time.”
After the initial five days that Brunson has to take it easy after the surgery, he says sparring will be off limits for approximately 3 weeks to a month, but he’ll still be able to work out regularly and stay in fight shape.
His hope is to return on a proposed Strikeforce card in May, where he can resume his pursuit of the middleweight title and a shot at champion Luke Rockhold.
“That would be the card I’m looking to get back,” Brunson said about fighting in May.
Maybe the most disappointing part about all of this happening was Brunson’s extreme desire to face Rockhold, should he have been able to get past Jacare on March 3. The two fighters have engaged in some serious back and forth via Twitter, and Brunson would like nothing more than to settle his differences with Rockhold in the cage.
“He’s been talking a lot of trash and I really have a problem with him. I wouldn’t mind punching him in the face a couple of times and shutting him up. I’m just too fast and too strong for him, he definitely needs to hit the weight room. I would love that fight,” said Brunson.
“He was going to be the first guy I called out after I beat Jacare. That was going to be the first thing I said. He was talking so much trash.”
Unfortunately that timeline has been delayed and for now Brunson’s battle is the fight for good eyesight.