Featured Image Credit: MMA News
UFC Charlotte is this weekend, and us at Untitled MMA are going to cover the main event, a top-10 Middleweight clash between Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson. We begin today with Derek Brunson.
Derek Brunson is a really good fighter and he has been for a long time. It took him a while for him to put together a resume good enough to join 185's elites due to a KO suffered by Yoel Romero in 2014. Before all of that, however, he was a 3-time All-American wrestler at UNC-Pembroke, a Divsion II school. Then, in 2010, he made his professional MMA debut. He fought and won 5 times in a 7 month span in 2010. He would not be defeated until 2012, where he dropped two fights: a split decision loss to Kendall Grove and a KO loss from Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, his opponent this weekend. Since then, he entered the UFC and has only lost to Yoel Romero, future interim-title challenger, Robert Whittaker, current Middleweight champion, and Anderson Silva, MMA legend. Not a bad resume. He has most recently won his last two, which included knockouts of Lyoto Machida and Dan Kelly.
Google "Derek Brunson punch." I'll wait for you. Done? Good. When you do, you would see nearly every picture in which he is punching another man in the cage, he looks much like the picture above: leaned forward, head up. For the most part, it works, too. The man hits like a truck for the division and that lean combined with an above average 77" reach, its a way to cover distance and knock guys out in a hurry. His 11 KOs on his resume point to that. Speaking of in a hurry, all of his UFC finishes have come in the first round. He also can grapple. He sometimes overly relies on his takedown, so when it doesn't work, he keeps going until it does. That explains the 28% tadkedown accuracy. He, however, has yet to be taken down in his UFC career, including stuffing 4 of former Olympian Yoel Romero's takedown in their 2014 bout. He also has a few submission victories to his credit, but I'm sure he will not try to push his luck on the ground Saturday night.
When he steps in the Octagon Saturday night in his home state of North Carolina, across from him will stand Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, the man who knocked him out in StrikeForce. Souza is widely regarded as one of the best BJJ practitioners in the sport, so that's a spot Brunson wants to avoid. He will have to fight smart and keep it on the feet. He needs to leave his ego at the door because Souza can end the fight wherever it goes. Look for Brunson to work in his improving jab, finding his range, before he does a signature Derek Brunson and rushes in, fists flying, looking for the KO. He should have the athleticism advantage here, as well, so he could for sure keep the fight on the feet, stuffing takedowns Souza should attempt. Should he catch him, he can definitely drop him and end the fight.
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