Put some respect on Derek Brunson’s name. The UFC middleweight contender is a longtime veteran of the game but recently is the butt of many jokes in the division. In 2018 he dropped back-to-back losses to Jacare Souza and current champion Israel Adesanya. There is no shame in losing to either of those men.
He headlined the recent UFC Fight Night in the Apex, Las Vegas, against rising star Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan had a lot of hype around him. The young man is a former training partner of Ronda Rousey’s and many believed that Brunson was just a sacrificial lamb.
However, the 36-year-old had other ideas. He put a brutal beating on the up-and-comer to remind the world that he should definitely be taken seriously. Check out the finish below as Brunson extended his winning record to three in a row. In sum, he most certainly isn’t finished just yet.
— UFC (@ufc) August 2, 2020
This was a rare three-round main event and both men came out fast. Shahbazyan had a good first round, landing some big body shots. He threw some hard and heavy shots, but the pace definitely wasn’t sustainable. Brunson used his veteran wiles to stay in the fight and was able to throw back some shots of his own.
The tide turned in the second round. Shahbazayan couldn’t sustain the same pace, as Brunson emphatically came back. He muscled the 22-year-old up against the fence and went to work, draining the energy from him. Then he got a takedown and landed some severe ground-and-pound. Heavy elbows cut him up. It actually looked like referee Herb Dean was about to stop the fight but the bell saved ‘The Golden Boy.’
"HE IS HURT."
— UFC (@ufc) August 2, 2020
Some believe that Shahabazyan’s corner should have thrown in the towel but the young man came back out after the doctor checked on him. But it didn’t last long. Brunson landed a lead left before dragging Shabazyan down to the mat again. He landed a couple of shots before Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Several viewers, including Michael Bisping, praised Dean for his stoppage. While it did come a little early in terms of shots absorbed, there was nowhere for Shahbazyan to go. As a young man with a long career ahead of him, there was no need for him to take any more damage because the fight was almost over. It was a veteran move from Dean who also received a lot of criticism recently – some of it justified.
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) August 2, 2020
Meanwhile, Brunson served up a reminder that fighters can’t look past him. Yes, he has lost seven times, but literally only to the best of the best. Adesanya, Jacare, Yoel Romero, and Anderson Silva are all MMA legends. In sum, you need to have an elite ability to beat him at this point in his career.
Moving forward Brunson may press for a clash with Darren Till. The Liverpudlian recently lost to Robert Whittaker in a close technical bout. As he is 1-3 in his last four, Till might be attracted to this bout if he thinks it’s winnable. However, he is also interested in Jack Hermansson. Brunson is a tough opponent for anybody.