In the storm of controversies surrounding UFC 208 this past weekend on Brooklyn, none dropped as many jaws as Anderson Silva’s surprising unanimous decision over Derek Brunson. The bout was very competitive, and each fighter had their moments, but the consensus was that Brunson had done enough to win on the scorecards.
The judges didn’t see it that way. The 41-year old Silva swept the scores 29-28, 30-27, 29-28. Two days later, Brunson was on The MMA Hour to talk about it, and he said fights like his have many skews.
“Sometimes the fans listen to the analysts covering or the media, people need to be respectful of what’s going on,” he told Ariel Helwani. “We took this fight on short notice. Anderson was in great shape. I’ve seen Anderson had a six-pack, I haven’t seen him in a six-pack ever. So I think he was in really good shape. I was not. I had to push my cardio, change my diet, do a lot of things to get in shape against this guy who is a phenomenal striker.”
Brunson, who has trained with many top level stand-up strikers at Winkeljohn-Jackson’s in Albuquerque — people like Jon Jones — said he was respectful of Silva’s counter game. He was also wary of being caught with something, having suffered a knockout loss in his last bout against Robert Whittaker.
“This guy [Silva], you come in stepping on a lazy jab, he’s going to counter you and put you out of the fight,” he said. “That’s what he’s done over and over his whole career.”
Though the fight is still fresh, Brunson said he was able to re-watch it to confirm his belief that he won the fight. He said he came to a pretty clear conclusion that he was correct.
“There’s no way he won that fight,” he said. “I heard fans say, ‘he’s an older guy, you didn’t do much, or you should have pushed more.’ I’m like, come on guys, look, watch the fight. Score the fight as it should be. People are like, ‘oh, he defended the takedowns,’ you don’t get points for defending takedowns.
“The first round, 39-8. I hit 39 times. He hit me eight times. I probably hit him with 12 uppercuts out of the clinch, where he normally puts guys away in the Muay Thai clinch. Silva’s nasty in the Muay Thai clinch. In the third round I outscored him 31-18. In the first and the third, I had takedowns. You tell me who win it.”
The only thing Brunson said he can think is that the judges were blinded by reverence to watch a legend in the sport compete, especially with the crowd swooning with Silva’s every more.
“And I also heard someone say, in the first round he controlled the whole fight. We stood in front of the octagon for two minutes. I wasn’t going to be overzealous and get caught with a counter. He was worried about me coming forward being reckless so he could counter me. Two minutes we stood in front of each other, and nobody really done anything.
“I then took over and I started taking it to him, he started backing up and I got him against the cage. The next two minutes I controlled the Octagon. You might can give him the last minute of the round. If you do that, I win the round with Octagon control. So, there’s no way he won that fight. The judges were just in awe, and every time he moved — as [Jon] Anik said on the broadcast — the crowd went crazy. It’s just crazy. It sucks for a fighter.”
Brunson said he should have thought better of jumping in there under the circumstances.
“I shouldn’t have taken that fight,” he said. “I shouldn’t have took that fight. I can’t keep saving cards or doing things I’m not supposed to.”
Before he lost to Whittaker, the 33-year-old Brunson had peeled off five wins a row, the last four of them coming via first-round knockouts. His fight with Silva was the first since being KO’d himself in November, and he said he was exercising smarts against such a dynamic striker in Silva.
He said if he fought the fight he did against anybody else, and everything this was exactly the same, he would have walked away with a victory. “If I fought anybody [else], I win,” he said.
“Let’s say this. If the stats were opposite, and I did what Anderson did to me, and he did [what I did to him], who would have won that fight?”
Here he laughed.
“It’s not Anderson’s fault. People are like, you had too much respect — no! I’m just not trying to be stupid like I was in my last fight. I’m not being reckless against a great counter-striker. I’m not being reckless. I know I can knock guys out.”
Even though the fight was controversial, Brunson said he saw no “point” in rematching Silva. As far as he is concerned, the moment came and went and he came away with the short end of the stick. Still, he conceded that he thought the three judges robbed him of the greatest moment of his career.
“That’s the issue,” he said. “That’s the best way to put it. You look for these defining moments.
“That was my defining moment, to get a significant win.”
As for when he’s like to get back in the Octagon and compete again, Brunson had a specific date in mind, yet no specific opponent. “I texted [manager] Ali [Abdel-Aziz] last night, I was like, yo, get to it,” he said. “Yeah, I want to get right back. I’m looking at April 22 in Nashville. I fought in Nashville and Fort Campbell, so the fans around there love me.”