It wasn’t pretty, but Derek Brunson got the job done against Elias Theodorou on the Canadian’s home turf at UFC on ESPN+ 9 on Saturday in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Brunson was coming off of back-to-back losses to Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya heading into the bout, while Theodorou had been riding a three-fight winning streak. A loss could have sent Brunson spiraling out of the Top 10 of the UFC middleweight division. But that didn’t happen.
Theodorou tried to use an awkward, elusive spinning attack to throw Brunson off of his game, but Brunson had retooled a bit ahead of their showdown. He showed much more poise and patience than is typical for him.
While Theodorou darted in and out, Brunson awaited his opportunity and took Theodorou to the canvas. He immediately moved to full mount and stayed glued to Theodorou as the Canadian twisted and turned, until he finally escaped to his feet.
Theodorou picked up his elusive, spinning movements, but Brunson wasn’t falling for it, pressuring when he saw and opening, but not overcommitting and forcing the fight.
Theodorou had a slightly better second frame, although there was little decisive engagement. Theodorou simply managed to land a few more shots than Brunson and stay out of his power range.
Brunson put a stamp on the fight in the final frame. Though Theodorou again tried to slip and slide and spin away, Brunson eventually shot a double-leg, scooped the Canadian high into the air and then slammed him hard onto his back.
If there was any doubt about the fight, that slam made all the difference, as they threw a few more shots en route to the final horn.
The judges saw it unanimously, issuing scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27 in favor of Brunson, who finally broke out of his losing skid.