Brunson got the call last Tuesday to step up and replace Karlos Vemola at UFC 155, facing veteran fighter Chris Leben.
The former Strikeforce middleweight hadn’t even been in a full training camp when he got the call, but he wanted to take the opportunity to make the jump to the UFC, and it paid off on Saturday night.
Brunson came out very strong in the first round, putting Leben on his back with a dominant wrestling game, and punishing the former Ultimate Fighter competitor with punches and elbows throughout the five minute session.
Unfortunately the short notice factor came back to bite Brunson for most of the rest of the fight when his cardio started to fade. That didn’t stop him however from pushing forward with quick punch combinations, and managing a few powerful takedowns along the way.
Leben, who had been off for over a year after facing the music on a drug suspension stemming from his last fight in the UFC, didn’t look much better in the cardio department after weathering a heavy storm from Brunson in round one.
When the final horn sounded, Brunson let out a mighty scream knowing he had just made his UFC debut a successful one and the judges agreed giving him 29-28 scores across the board.
Now Brunson can head back to New Mexico to work with coach Greg Jackson and hopefully have a little more time to prepare for his next bout. Meanwhile, Chris Leben is stuck in a very tough spot after a loss following a one-year suspension, against an opponent who took the fight on a week’s notice.
Will Leben get another shot in the Octagon? Only Joe Silva and Dana White know the answer to that.