BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It’s a sample size of a 20-fight career, but if look at Derek Brunson’s last seven fights one thing stands out: Somebody’s getting knocked out. In four of those seven fights, Brunson was the one delivering the blows, with his last victory coming against Uriah Hall in September (first-round TKO). Twice it was Brunson himself who ended up on the receiving end of the KO, the last happening at UFC Fight Night 101 in November against Robert Whittaker.
So, heading into his bright-lit UFC 208 bout with Anderson Silva — perhaps the greatest striker in UFC history — Brunson knows there’s a big opportunity being afforded him. Not just to add a legend’s name to his casualty list. But to kick off 2017 with a bang, and add Silva to his highlight reel of KOs. “I can’t sit up here and deny it,” he told MMA Fighting at the UFC 208 media day, which was held at the Barclays Center. “[Silva]’s always been the guy on the radar, the guy carrying the sport, kind him and GSP carrying the sport. Anderson’s been here the longest, he brought our sport to the forefront. He’s been around, and yeah, I’ve always been a fan and I’ve always enjoyed his fighting style.”
Now 41 years old, the longtime middleweight champion Silva is trying to rebound after back-to-back losses against Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier, the latter fight which he took on just two day’s notice after Jon Jones was forced to withdraw from UFC 200.
Overall Silva is 0-4-(1) in his last five fights, which has a lot of people believing he is on the last legs of a storied career.
That idea — that Silva is old or washed up — is not shared by Brunson.
“That guy is still Anderson to me,” he said, pointing to the large circle of reporters who had Silva submerged under their recorders. “No matter what people say, he might lose a little bit of speed but I still think he’s faster than 90 percent of the division. His technique doesn’t diminish, he’s a little older maybe but, like I said, he lost a little speed, yet he’s still the same guy.
“I think he’s capable of still the same output, and he still has all the technique in the world. So yeah, I’m definitely looking to go out there and make a statement.”
With an emphatic victory over Silva, Brunson said he believes this will be the year that makes him a household name in MMA.
“I want to have a big year,” he said. “A big year, big fights, big contract, big money, big everything. 2017 is definitely my year.”