I was going to make fun of Derek Brunson for training with a homeless guy to prepare for his Israel Adesanya fight at UFC 230 back in late 2018, but then I remembered that Miesha Tate was spending nearly $200,000 per fight camp and suddenly Brunson didn’t sound so crazy.
“I was training with soccer dads, firemen, police officers, janitors,” Brunson told The MMA Hour. “Like, that was who my training partners were. One UFC fight, I had a homeless guy I was training with. He used to be like an amateur boxer — a homeless guy. I tried to go find him after my fight and give him money, but I couldn’t find him. Nobody could find him.”
Maybe it was a ghost bum like the Bruce Lee spirit in this low-budget classic.
Brunson was stopped by first-round technical knockout but used the Adesanya loss as a springboard to five straight wins, including last September’s submission victory over Darren Till at UFC Vegas 36 in Las Vegas.
Next up? A title eliminator against fellow middleweight contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 270, a bout that will give Brunson (or Cannonier) a shot at the winner of Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2, a championship rematch that headlines the Jan. 22 fight card in “Sin City.”
Just don’t expect Brunson to make the same mistake twice.
“When I say I underestimate people, I don’t disrespect people, I just feel like I got their number,” Brunson said about his UFC 230 performance. “So I’m like, ‘I’ve got this guy’s number, no problem.’ So I kind of underestimated where I needed to be and my cardio wasn’t up there. So I’m up here smoking these guys in the gym, and I go into the fight and I’m not ready for this high-level guy that’s in front of me who’s got a lot of feints, a good style that’s going to be scrambling.”
Brunson (23-7) turns 38 two weeks before his Cannonier fight.