After securing his fifth win in a row following a submission victory over Darren Till at UFC Vegas 36, Darren Till is ready for his title shot.
A perennial contender in the middleweight division, Brunson has come up short in previous bids to earn a shot at gold but this time around he knows exactly where he stands in the division.
Not only has Brunson earned five consecutive wins, which is the longest streak among any of the UFC middleweights currently sitting in the top five in the division, but he’s been completely dominant during this current run through the division.
Looking at the lay of the land at 185 pounds, Brunson just doesn’t see a need to take another fight before getting a title shot, although he might be interested in cashing a big paycheck like former UFC champion Tyron Woodley did when he recently crossed over to boxing.
“I could use a tune up with one of the Jake Paul brothers or something,” Brunson said when speaking at the UFC Vegas 36 post-fight press conference. “Maybe Dana White will loan me to [Triller], I could fight one of those guys or I could wait until Israel [Adesanya] and [Robert] Whittaker fight in early next year and fight in March or April. We have some options.”
Brunson told MMA Fighting prior to Saturday night that he hoped to get the win over Till and then challenge for the title against either Adesanya or Whittaker after suffering losses to both of them in the past.
That’s still his plan, although Brunson didn’t completely shut down the idea of facing off with another ranked opponent like Jared Cannonier, although that doesn’t appear to be at the top of the list for his next fight.
“[Jared] Cannonier isn’t completely off the table,” Brunson explained. “I’ve just been adamant about asking for the toughest guys in the division. I asked for Paulo Costa, the UFC sent him a contract, he didn’t sign it. If I would have got that fight, I would definitely be next for the title.
“I’m doing all this work, I want to be rewarded. I’ve never got a title shot in my career.”
For now it appears Brunson is going to take some much needed time off after an injury during his training camp nearly derailed the fight with Till before it could even happen.
“I had a rib injury,” Brunson revealed. “I thought I broke my ribs. I got kicked in the ribs really hard by someone’s toe. This guy was about 240 [pounds]. It was kind of like a bad thing sparring with someone so heavy when I’m getting my body down to my fight weight and I’m getting ready to compete.
“But yeah, I thought I broke my ribs. The last three weeks to the camp, I couldn’t spar. I had to do conditioning, hit pads, I had to take a week off. So I only had two weeks to prepare. It was a little tough but that’s a part of the fight game.”
According to Brunson, he contemplated pulling out of the fight or at least asking the UFC to reschedule the date but ultimately he stuck it out and that decision certainly paid off in his favor.
“It was close. It was thought about [pulling out of the fight],” Brunson admitted. “It was like can we push this fight back? Where we at with this fight? Cause the injury was pretty bad. It pretty much stopped my training camp.”
The injury definitely hampered Brunson when it came to his striking, which is why he didn’t get to display his hands as much in the fight with Till on Saturday night.
That said, the 37-year-old former All-American wrestler was happy to rely on his grappling to get the job done, although he believes the improvements he’s made to his overall striking game will pay dividends if he crosses paths with Adesanya again in the future.
“This camp I wasn’t as sharp as I like to be with standup,” Brunson explained. “My standup is a lot better than I was able to show tonight. I was able to get a few things off on the feet. Came with an uppercut, I saw some openings but I like to be sharper.
“I was injured for the last three weeks of this camp so I think with that time to spar and really prepare, then my standup is looking really good and I can really pose a threat to Izzy on the feet and definitely on the ground.”