Derek Brunson is riding the crest of a wave right now. He picked up his fifth UFC win in a row this past weekend by choking out Darren Till.
With his win over Till, Derek Brunson has put himself in line for a potential shot at the UFC middleweight title in the near future. But despite that, it still feels like he lacks respect from the majority of UFC fans.
The fact that Derek Brunson doesn’t get the respect he deserves is somewhat baffling. While he isn’t the flashiest fighter on the UFC roster, nor the biggest trash talker, he’s undoubtedly one of the best middleweights on the planet right now.
With that in mind then, here are three reasons why Derek Brunson deserves far more respect from UFC fans.
#3. Derek Brunson has some genuinely excellent wins
With an overall MMA record of 23-7 and a UFC record of 14-5, it’s easy to see why Derek Brunson is considered one of the best middleweights in the world right now. But does this record deserve even more respect? You bet.
That’s because for the most part, Derek Brunson has only ever fought high-level opponents in the UFC’s octagon. He’s rarely, if ever, been thrown a softball by the promotion.
In fact, the only questionable opponent on his UFC ledger from a quality standpoint would be Brian Houston, who Brunson finished with a rear-naked choke in November 2013. Even then, Houston, who washed out of the UFC with a 0-2 record, was a late replacement for a higher regarded fighter in Antonio Braga Neto.
Outside of that, Derek Brunson has beaten a former UFC champion in Lyoto Machida, and has also defeated ranked opponents such as Uriah Hall, Kevin Holland and now Darren Till.
Even some of his lesser-regarded opponents, such as Elias Theodorou and Dan Kelly, were on hefty win streaks when Brunson defeated them. He even became only the third man to beat Kelly.
And it’s not like Brunson could be accused of being a point-fighter, either. While he is capable of grinding out wins, he’s actually finished nine of his 14 UFC wins, the majority of them by KO or TKO.
Basically, Brunson deserves to be seen as far more than simply a high-level gatekeeper, which is the reputation he has with many fans. It’s safe to say that his list of victims should certainly give him more respect than that.
#2. Derek Brunson’s UFC losses have only ever come at the hands of truly elite fighters
While Derek Brunson’s wins in the UFC over the years have been hugely impressive, the middleweight contender has also suffered five losses inside the octagon. These losses are the reason that, to date at least, he hasn’t had a shot at the UFC middleweight title.
But again, a closer look at Brunson’s losses should mean he deserves a lot more respect than he gets.
The five men to defeat Brunson in the UFC? Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya. Three of those fighters are either former or current UFC champions. The other two, Romero and Souza, are widely recognized by most MMA fans as two of the greatest fighters to have never held a UFC title.
More to the point, though, while Brunson’s losses to Adesanya, Souza and Whittaker came in largely one-sided fashion, the same cannot be said for the other two.
His fight with Silva could well have been a victory had the judges seen things slightly differently. In fact, the majority of fans online scored the fight for Brunson, including those writing for reputable websites such as Sherdog and MMA Junkie.
And while Brunson was stopped by Romero in their 2013 clash, the finish came in the third round of a fight in which Brunson was clearly winning. He even outwrestled the former Olympian for the majority of the contest.
Naturally, there should be no shame attached to any of Derek Brunson’s losses. The fact that he could’ve beaten two of those elite opponents says a lot too. Basically, any fighter who has only lost to the five men Brunson has lost to deserves a ton of respect.
#1. Derek Brunson has been in the UFC a long time without dropping his standards
Perhaps the biggest reason that Derek Brunson deserves more respect than he gets from UFC fans is his surprisingly lengthy tenure with the promotion.
Brunson’s record of 14-5 is an instant indicator of his veteran status. But even so, it’s easy to forget that he debuted in the octagon at UFC 155 in December 2012, the best part of a decade ago.
A glance at the other fighters in action at UFC 155 tells its own story. Of the 24 fighters who competed, just six still remain part of the UFC’s roster. Of those, only Max Holloway, who was just 21 years old at the time, sits higher on the UFC’s ladder than Brunson.
Meanwhile, Eddie Wineland and Michael Johnson are basically clinging to their UFC spot by their fingertips. Veterans Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller are both at the tail end of their careers too.
Derek Brunson, however, is ticking along just as strongly as ever in the UFC middleweight division despite being 37 years old. In fact, his current five-fight win streak is the best run he’s put together during his entire tenure with the promotion!
When you take his veteran status, and apparent agelessness, into account, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Derek Brunson deserves far more respect from UFC fans.
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