Eighth-ranked middleweight contender Derek Brunson suffered a loss in his last outing, losing to Robert Whittaker at UFC Fight Night 101 in November, ending his five-fight winning streak in the 185-pound division.
Brunson faces former middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the UFC 208 co-main event on Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y., and expects to be right back in the title mix if he defeats the former pound-for-pound kingpin.
“I’d say I just fell in love with trying to knock people out really quick instead of letting the fight develop,” Brunson said about his loss to Whittaker during a recent UFC 208 media conference call.
“Anderson is a great counter striker, but I’m pretty fast. If you look at my previous fights, I went in to finish, and I definitely knocked guys out,” he added.
Anderson Silva’s name in any fighter’s win column is a career defining accomplishment. But for Brunson it isn’t just about getting a win over a legendary name. A win over Silva is his quickest path back into the title picture.
“I think so,” he said when asked if a win over the former champion would put him right back in contender status.
“Middleweight is the best division in the UFC, in MMA in my opinion. The No. 1 guy through No. 15, there’s some historical guys, so many game guys. Everybody is competing on the top level. Everybody is ready to fight. It’s a coin flip in a lot of the matches,” said Brunson.
Silva hasn’t technically won a fight since October 2012. He was defeated by Chris Weidman twice in 2013, and was sidelined for more than a year after suffering a broken leg in his second fight with Weidman at UFC 168. His decision win over Nick Diaz in his return bout at UFC 183 was later ruled a No Contest after Silva tested positive to banned substances leading up to and after the fight.
Brunson doesn’t think the losses on Silva record tell the entire story, and insists that Silva is still a dangerous opponent for anyone in the division.
“Anderson lost to Michael Bisping in a close fight. He actually knocked him out with a knee. It was kind of a little controversial with that. He broke his leg in one fight. He dropped his hands, which he typically does, but even in that fight. I always watch Anderson Silva and I always watch his fighting style. When he fought Chris Weidman the first time, I was like, really? When is this fight going to get started? He kind of kept his hands down toying with him. I guess he wasn’t really intimidated by Chris Weidman’s speed, and then Weidman caught him with a crazy combination,” he said.
“So, me looking at the situation, I throw all those losses out. I’m looking at, I’m fighting a guy who is not as fast as he used to be, but this guy has all the skills in the world,” Brunson added. “Those fights were all close. It was unfortunate events in those fights, so I think I’m getting a very game and a ready fighter.”