SAN DIEGO -- In the days leading up to a fight, most mixed martial artists won't cop to thinking about anything but the task at hand.
Brunson took a bout at ShoFight 20 in Springfield, Mo. on June 16 against UFC veteran Kendall Grove and lost a controversial split decision in what many who saw the fight felt Brunson won.
It went into the record books as Brunson's first career defeat, and he's not afraid to admit he carries the sting from the decision in Saturday night's co-main event match against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.
"I'm kind of pissed off," Brunson said in an exclusive interview after Thursday's press conference at the Valley View Casino Center. "I'm over the whole ‘I got cheated,' but to keep it honest and clear, I got cheated. I dominated for three rounds. I know he had a big name, he won on 'The Ultimate Fighter,' he's won in the UFC and that's good for their promotion, but I won."
"I've kind of got a chip on my shoulder for this fight," the Jackson's MMA fighter continued. "I've kind of still got that fight, not in my mind, but I'm not going to let that happen again."
Memories of his most recent fight isn't the only thing motivating Brunson at the moment. The former three-time NCAA Division 2 wrestling All-American at North Carolina-Pembroke also made note that talk of a potential rematch between Souza and the man who defeated him for the Strikeforce middleweight title, Luke Rockhold, has dominated the discussion leading up to this bout.
"It's a big opportunity," said Brunson (9-1). "I've heard a lot of talks about Rockhold-Jacare 2, I'm not looking forward to making that happen. I'm here, this is my time, I'm here to get my title shot. I think Luke Rockhold hopes I don't win, because you know, I'm a wrestler and I can put him on his back and beat him up all day. Jacare he might be able to strike, take him down, but he won't be able to stop my takedowns."
Of course, before that happens, he still has to contend with Souza. "Jacare" is not only the former Strikeforce champ, but also a five-time former World Jiu-Jitsu champion. Brunson is confident his wrestling will outweigh Souza's grappling.
"I think he's good on the ground obviously, but if we get to the ground, I'm real good," he said. "I've trained at Renzo Gracie's with some of the best black belts in the world, I've trained with a lot of black belts who are really good, and I don't get submitted. I'm really good at avoiding submissions, so, I know he's really good on the ground so I've just got to be really solid if it gets there.
"I'm in whoop-ass mode, I just want to give it to my next opponent. Regardless, I want to be really exciting, beat him up, and if I achieve that, I'll probably get the finish, if not, I want it to be a convincing win."