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Antonio Carlos Jr. wonders why Derek Brunson accepted to fight him: 'He's looking for easier fights'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Derek Brunson and Antonio Carlos Jr. are making the UFC matchmaker’s job easier.

“Cara de Sapato” called out the winner of Derek Brunson vs. Dan Kelly after submitting Eric Spicely at UFC 212, and Brunson, who finished Kelly 76 seconds a week later in Auckland, is down for it.

"I called him out and he accepted,” Junior told MMA Fighting. "I’ll getting ready for whenever the UFC sends me the date. I’ll be ready to get another win."

Brunson called the Brazilian "Antonio Silva”, though. After they fight, Junior jokes, he won’t forget his name.

"There are a lot of Silvas in Brazil, but, no, I’m not a Silva,” Junior said with a laugh. "He must still have Anderson stuck in his throat, but there’s another Brazilian coming to get another victory over him."

Junior is riding a three-fight winning streak with two submission stoppages, and suffered his only defeat in six middleweight bouts by the hands of Kelly in March 2016.

"People always underestimate Dan Kelly, but he was on a good win streak,” Junior said. "He’s always the underdog but always wins in the end. But Derek Brunson had a great performance. He’s an aggressive fighter, and I knew something could happen, that he could finish (Kelly).”

"There’s no easy fight, and that’s why I wanted someone from the top,” he continued. "The best fighters are in the UFC, so there’s no difference fighting someone from the top or someone outside the rankings. The only difference is the name, and that’s why I wanted to fight someone with a big name in order to get closer to the belt and become middleweight champion.”

Brunson is currently ranked at No. 8 in the official UFC ranking, and “Cara de Sapato” isn’t sure why Brunson quickly accepted his challenge.

"I think that him accepting this fight shows that he’s looking for easier fights,” the Brazilian said, “and when a fighter looks for that, he doesn’t have the right spirit and ends up making mistakes and giving openings for his opponent to win, and I’ll be the opponent.

"I think he is (underestimating me) because I’m not in the ranking and because people think I’m one-dimensional because they know me more for my jiu-jitsu. He's tough and I’m ready and mature enough to fight anyone in the division. If I’m in my best day, I can fight anyone."

The quick finish over Kelly brought Brunson back to the winning column following losses to Robert Whittaker and Anderson Silva, but Junior believes he has what it takes to defeat his first top 10 middleweight opponent in the UFC.

"He has heavy hands, but I think it’s a good match-up for me,” the grappling expert said. "I’m a counter striker, and he exposes himself a lot when he attacks. He comes with his chin high, so that gives me a lot of openings to counter. And he always finishes his combinations with takedowns, and that makes me even more comfortable to use my ground game."

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