Derek Brunson captured his fifth straight victory by submitting Top 10 middleweight Darren Till in the UFC Vegas 36 headliner last weekend in “Sin City,” a third-round finish (highlights here) that might send the longtime veteran into his first division title shot.
Then again, it might not.
That’s because Brunson (23-7) has some stiff competition at 185 pounds. Not only will the winner of the upcoming showdown between Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa be looking for their shot at redemption, Brunson will also have to contend with No. 3-ranked Jared Cannonier.
“I don’t think he’s in a position to wait for a title shot, to be honest,” the “broke” Cannonier told Submission Radio. “He’s number five, he beat number seven. I don’t think that does much. I think that just solidifies your position right there at contendership. I don’t think it makes you the number-one contender. So, if he wants to be certified officially the number one contender, he’d fight me. And then he can sit around and wait and be guaranteed the title shot. But as far as if I wait and he waits, I’m getting the title shot first. If you look at the rankings, that’s just how it is. I mean, to be honest, I’m waiting for them to call me. And if he says no, he won’t be the first one to say no to a fight with me.”
Brunson has not lost since Israel Adesanya finished him at UFC 230.
Cannonier (14-5), meanwhile, captured four of his last five, including last month’s unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum. That said, the “Killa Gorilla” is less than a year removed from his Robert Whittaker loss at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, which could affect his place in line.
Whittaker is excepted to rematch Adesanya for the middleweight title in early 2022.
“Well, from what I saw from Brunson in his last fight, I think Izzy tools him up all day long on the feet, Cannonier continued. “I don’t think his striking has developed to the level to contend with a guy like Israel. We saw how successful Darren Till was, and he was essentially some pressure with a one-two. And it had Derek on his heels, had him thinking about shooting, and it worked out. So the question is, can he get Izzy down and hold him down like he did Darren? I don’t know. We ain’t seen anybody hold him down like that. Can Derek hold him down? Absolutely. He definitely has the skills to be able to make it happen. But I think Izzy has his number in that fight.”
To see the rest of the middleweight Top 10 click here.