UFC Vegas 36 was originally set to go down in London, England and while in theory the UFC doesn’t have favorites, you have to figure they wanted their UK fighters to shine on the card and help grow the sport internationally. And shine they did, for the most part. Four out of five Brits won their match with the only loss going to Darren Till, who got stomped in the main event against Derek Brunson (watch the highlights here).
Even after such a powerful performance from Brunson, most of the attention has stayed on Till and what he needs to do to turn things around, which is a shame because Derek showed off some powerful wrestling and ground n’ pound skills that are going to be a real problem for the division moving forward.
And he did it all after suffering from a pretty painful sounding injury in training. According to Brunson’s manager, he suffered from “torn cartilage and fractured ribs” three weeks out from the fight and could “barely even drive his car.”
Brunson discussed the injury during the UFC Vegas 36 post-fight press conference.
“I had a rib injury, I thought I broke my ribs,” he said. “I got kicked in the ribs really hard with someone’s toe, this guy was about 240, so it was kinda like a bad thing sparring with someone so heavy while I was getting my body down to my fight weight and getting ready to compete.”
“But yeah man, I thought I had broken my ribs and the last three weeks to the camp, I couldn’t spar. I had to kind of do conditioning, hit pads. I took a whole week off so I only really had two weeks to prepare. It was a little bit tough but that’s the fight game. We were confident in what we were doing and kind of relying on that.”
Was there talk about pulling out of the fight?
Didn’t get the bonus . Now my cornerman eating pancakes for dinner ♂️ pic.twitter.com/XnB53s1dpn— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) September 5, 2021
“It was close, we thought about can we push this fight back or where we at with this fight?” Brunson said. “The injury was pretty bad, it pretty much stopped my training camp, so....”
As for what’s next for Brunson, he made it clear that he’d be happy to wait for a title shot. But if not, the UFC could get creative.
“I mean, I could use a tune up with one of the Paul brothers,” Brunson joked. “Maybe Dana White can lend me to Triller, could fight one of those guys. Or I could wait until Israel and Whittaker fight early next year, and fight in March or April.”
“[Jared] Cannonier isn’t completely off the table,” he added. “I’ve just been adamant about asking for the toughest guys in the division, and I asked for Paulo Costa, the UFC sent him a contract, he didn’t sign it. If I had gotten that fight I definitely would have been next for the title. So I’m doing all this work, I definitely want to be rewarded. I’ve never gotten a title shot in my career.”
With Adesanya sounding disinterested in facing Brunson and the world still sleeping on his talents, Brunson will probably have to win another fight before locking up a shot. I dunno about you guys, but Brunson vs. Cannonier sounds like a perfect #1 contender match to us.