Derek Brunson took Dominick Cruz’s advice to find a head coach and now he’s won two fights in a row under the tutelage of Henri Hooft and the team at Hard Knocks 365.
The veteran middleweight, who was essentially in charge of his own training camps previously, had to survive an early scare to then put on a blistering pace for the better part of 15 minutes to hand Ian Heinisch his first loss in the UFC. The scores all read 29-28 after three rounds with Brunson getting the unanimous decision victory at UFC 241 on Saturday.
“Everybody wants to come out here and test my cardio but I’m one of the hardest working guys in the division,” Brunson said after the win.
It took Heinisch a matter of seconds to start firing shots including a massive head kick that blasted Brunson in the head during the first exchange in the fight. Brunson’s head snapped back but he somehow ate the kick and then pressed forward looking for the takedown.
Heinisch was able to stay on the feet but the brief grappling scramble allowed Brunson enough time to recover from that early head kick. After surviving that onslaught, Brunson began to settle into a better rhythm with his striking combinations but Heinisch was still controlling the pace whenever he stepped forward with powerful punches and kicks.
Brunson’s patience began paying off in round two as he started landing a straight left hand down the pipe that landed with regularity. With each shot landed, Heinisch was showing signs of slowing down with his strikes no longer coming in rapid-fire succession.
Late in the round, Heinisch decided to look for a takedown but Brunson stuffed it and then made him pay for it with a series of punishing left hands before the horn sounded.
With time ticking away in the fight, Brunson managed his first takedown but he couldn’t hold Heinisch on the ground as they quickly worked back to the feet. Still, Brunson’s ability to set a steady pace with a volume striking attack was still getting the better of Heinisch, who was walking forward with his hands down.
Despite exhaustion wearing him down, Heinisch was still slinging heavy leather with power behind every punch, which kept Brunson honest in the exchanges.
The difference was ultimately the relentless conditioning and accurate striking that allowed Brunson to out work Heinisch, especially through the second and third rounds and that was enough to get the job done.
Brunson has now earned a pair of wins in a row as he looks to begin his ascent back up the middleweight rankings while Heinisch will return to the drawing board after tasting defeat for the first time since 2017.