Derek Brunson

USA

Comes through as massive underdog
MiddleweightUFC
August 1, 2020
Brunson defeated Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO (punches) at 0:26 of Round 3 at UFC on ESPN+ 31 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
The first few minutes were a feeling out process for the two fighters, but Brunson was able to record a takedown roughly two minutes in. Shahbazyan got back up, and the two engaged in a brief firefight before settling back in. It was clear at this time a more patient Brunson was in the cage than what fight fans have seen in the past, and it resulted in a very tight first round. Brunson got another takedown early in Round 2, but against wasn't able to do much with it. After a brief stoppage due to Shahbazyan getting poked in the eye, Shahbazyan landed a big body shot, but Brunson gained momentum back shortly after that. The veteran started throwing with more consistency, frequently backup Shahbazyan up against the cage. With a bit under 90 seconds left, Brunson scored another takedown and held on longer this time, dealing some damaging ground-and pound. He came dangerously close to a finish in the final seconds of the round as Shahbazyan visibly tired, and referee Herb Dean even called in the doctor to check on him between rounds. Shahbazyan was allowed to go out for Round 3, but didn't make it 30 seconds before Brunson got another takedown and essentially pounded him out. It's a massive win for Brunson, who makes it three victories in a row despite entering as high as a +330 underdog. He'll get a highly-ranked opponent his next time out.
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Booked against Shahbazyan again
MiddleweightUFC
June 8, 2020
Brunson is scheduled to fight Edmen Shahbazyan in a middleweight match at UFC Fight Night on August 1, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Brunson and Shahbazyan were previously scheduled to meet in March and April, so the UFC will hope that the third time scheduling is the charm. Coming off back-to-back victories over Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch (both by unanimous decision), Brunson will once again turn his attention towards defeating an undefeated 22-year-old with 11 wins under his belt. While Brunson will be one of the toughest tests to date for the heralded prospect, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him enter as a sizable betting underdog.
Bumped to UFC Portland
MiddleweightUFC
February 20, 2020
Brunson's contest against Edmen Shahbazyan has been moved to UFC Portland on April 11, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Brunson was initially set to fight Shahbazyan at UFC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7, but he'll now have to wait until April to take on the undefeated 22-year-old. Coming off back-to-back wins against Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch, Brunson will look to keep his momentum intact against Shahbazyan.
Added to Vegas card
MiddleweightUFC
January 22, 2020
Brunson will face Edmen Shahbazyan at UC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7, MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Brunson has rebounded from a pair of losses to defeat Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision in his last two matches. In Shahbazyan, he'll be facing a 22-year-old who has won all 11 of his professional matches, including 10 first-round victories.
Suffers potential leg fracture
MiddleweightUFC
August 19, 2019
Brunson has been handed a 180-day suspension due to a potential left leg fracture suffered in Saturday' UFC 241 bout versus Ian Heinisch, Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Despite the injury, Brunson earned a unanimous decision victory in the bout to move his career record to 20-7-0. In order to return to the octagon sooner than February of 2020, he will need to receive medical clearance from a physician.
Rebounds to defeat Ian Heinisch
MiddleweightUFC
August 17, 2019
Brunson defeated Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at UFC 241 on Saturday in Anaheim.
ANALYSIS
It was a total 180 from Brunson in the sense that he totally changed his game plan for this fight. Instead of emptying the gas tank quickly and going for the quick finish, Brunson slowed his pace and (correctly) wagered Heinisch would gas out. After surviving a brutal head kick early, Brunson proceeded to swat away all eight of Heinisch's takedown attempts and finished with a 77-to-46 edge in total strikes landed (unofficially). Brunson is far less interesting if he is fighting at a slow pace, but he did what he had to do to get a win here. Considering he likely would have been tumbled down the rankings had he lost, it was the correct call.