Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
On Derek Brunson's road to the UFC, the last two stops were losses in two separate organizations. That alone is a bizarre route to take. Stranger yet? When he got to the octagon, he won.
Brunson seized momentum early, scoring a quick takedown early in the first and spending the majority of the round in top position, peppering Leben with strikes, and landing one crushing elbow. Leben ate it all and got back to his feet with 30 seconds left in the round, but the round was unquestionably Brunson's.
In the second, Leben stuffed Brunson's first takedown attempt but went down on the second. This time, he didn't stay down nearly as long, but by the time he got to his feet, both fighters looked exhausted.
The third was a battle of wills, as Leben tried to find the knockout punch, but after over a year away, he didn't have much steam on anything he threw and Brunson got a late takedown to seal it.
Unlike most Leben bouts, the fight was no crowd-pleaser as the MGM Grand Garden Arena broke into boos on more than one occasion.
Leben was fighting for the first time since a one-year suspension due to testing positive for painkillers at UFC 138. He is now 22-9.
Brunson is 10-2 after locking up his first UFC victory.
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