It’s time to give Derek Brunson his respect.
Despite a higher ranking and a four-fight win streak, Brunson walked into the UFC Vegas 36 main event as a decided underdog but then he dispatched Darren Till in very impressive fashion with a rear-naked choke submission to potentially put himself into title contention.
The fight came to a close at 2:13 in the third round after Brunson locked up the submission and Till was forced to tap out.
“I’m tired of these guys not mentioning my name,” Brunson shouted following his latest win. “You know [Israel Adesanya], look at the camera, mention my name. I heard you mentioning Till and [Jared] Cannonier. Cause I’ve been busting my butt, four years after my loss to get back to this point. I’m ready to contend.”
When the fight first started, Till was very quick to establish his pace on the feet while landing several stiff straight left hands that were snapping off in succession. In order to keep Brunson off balance, Till was forcing Brunson to back up while launching solid combinations.
To counter the striking attacks, Brunson lunged forward and snagged a perfectly timed takedown to plant Till on the canvas. From there, Brunson was just punishing Till with ground and pound as he was absolutely battering the British slugger with punches and elbows.
With his right eye nearly closed after the opening round, Till knew he had to change the momentum while doing a much better job of defending takedowns coming from Brunson. The only problem was Till wasn’t really firing back with much of his own offense, which eventually led to Brunson swooping inside to bring the fight crashing back down to the ground.
While Brunson’s output wasn’t as devastating, he was controlling Till and then unloading with short elbows or big looping punches whenever he got enough room to work.
When the third round got started, Till looked much sharper on the feet as he started throwing and landing the straight left hand that was consistently catching Brunson off guard. Just when it looked like Till had Brunson hurt momentarily, the former Division II All-American wrestler turned back to his wrestling to bring the fight to his world on the ground.
To make matters worse, Brunson actually landed in the mount, which forced Till to scramble while giving up his back in the process. As soon as Till rolled to his stomach, Brunson locked in the position and slipped his arms under the chin to secure the choke.
“I saw a submission the whole time,” Brunson said. “I’m a Renzo Gracie black-belt so I wanted to put it to use. I’m really good on the ground and I want to showcase it.”
The win puts Brunson at 5-0 in his last five appearances with his last loss coming nearly three years ago when he fell to current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Obviously, Brunson has long wanted the chance to avenge that loss and now he’s willing to wait for that opportunity while calling for a title shot following this latest performance.
“I’m not broke. I’ll sit and wait [for the title shot],” Brunson said. “I know Izzy and [Robert] Whittaker got a fight coming up. I’ll sit and wait.
“That gives me five, six months to go ahead and get my body right and prepare for this really last, long title push that I’m trying to make.”