Derek Brunson’s New Chapter: Embracing Change Beyond the UFC
The Decision to Move On
Derek Brunson, a seasoned name in the world of mixed martial arts, recently made headlines with his decision to leave the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). After an illustrious 11-year journey with the UFC, Brunson felt the winds of change calling. He remarks, “I think it was at the time that we both went our separate ways. I had a good run there but I guess where I’m at in my career, at my age, some of the things that go on there didn’t make sense for me.”
His tenure at the UFC saw him as a near title contender and a consistent top 10 middleweight. However, the recent shift in his career trajectory and a desire for a new challenge led him to sign a multi-fight deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
A Look Back at Brunson’s UFC Journey
Brunson’s UFC career was marked by notable achievements, including an impressive five-fight win streak, culminating in a submission win over Darren Till. Despite these victories, Brunson felt a lack of motivation for title eliminators, stating, “It was just tough to get up for these fights, for all these top guys. It was just perfect time for both of us to move on.”
His last fight in the UFC against Jared Cannonier, which ended in a second-round knockout, seemed to solidify his decision. Brunson reflects on this period with a sense of frustration, feeling the need for more recognition and opportunities to prove his worth in the octagon.
The Transition to PFL and New Goals
Brunson’s move to the PFL is not just a change in the organization but a shift in his professional ethos. He explains, “Just being in PFL, it’s a new opportunity, a new goal. I don’t have to lobby for anything. I just have go out there and win fights. That’s my main focus right now.”
In PFL, he looks forward to a landscape free from the politics of matchmaking, where performance and victories speak louder than words. His debut is set for the season finale card against two-time PFL welterweight champion Ray Cooper III, a fight that marks the beginning of Brunson’s ambitious journey in the PFL.
Beyond the Cage: Brunson’s Personal Insights
Brunson’s decision was influenced by more than just professional considerations. He speaks about his love for competing, not driven by monetary gains but by the sheer joy of evolution and self-improvement. This mindset showcases Brunson as an athlete who values the spirit of the sport and personal growth over materialistic achievements.
The UFC’s Response and Dana White’s Personal Call
Despite the transition, Brunson holds no grudges against the UFC. In a surprising turn, UFC CEO Dana White personally reached out to Brunson post-release. “He’s like ‘I didn’t hear what they said, it could have come across as weird but I wanted to let you know I wasn’t trying to slight you or anything like that.’ It was no animosity, no ill will,” Brunson shares about the call.
Final Thoughts: Brunson’s Future in PFL
As Brunson prepares for his PFL debut, his story serves as a testament to the evolving nature of mixed martial arts and the continuous quest of fighters for new challenges and growth. His journey in PFL is not just about winning fights but about seeking a new adventure and motivation in a sport he deeply loves. Derek Brunson’s move from the UFC to PFL marks not just a change in the organization but a new chapter in his storied career.