Taping for the Ultimate Fighter 17 started this week. The season is expected to be one of the franchise’s most successful based on the involvement of coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, and, until recently, Strikeforce middleweight Derek Brunson was excited about being part of the cast.
However, Brunson was recently yanked off the set after Showtime refused to sign off on his involvement. Showtime has certain rights when it comes to Strikeforce fighters based on their business relationship with the promotion and, in the eyes of many, their refusal to release Brunson was simply the company’s way of using him as a pawn in a larger game being played between the broadcaster and Zuffa (who own both Strikeforce and the UFC).
Brunson recently spoke to The MMA Hour about the situation where he explained things from his perspective, even going so far as to imply the way his career has been handled as of late has left him rethinking his future in the sport.
“I go to Jackson’s for five weeks to get in real good shape, work with the coaches and work with my teammates. Then they fly me out to Vegas and I sign contract, and everything was, like, good to go. I got on weight, photo shoot, and right before weigh-in, its like, I’m actually in the order of the fighters, about to weigh-in and do my physical, and one of the guys pulled me out and took me to the hall,” offered Brunson on how he learned he wouldn’t be able to take part on TUF 17. “I’m like dang, this has not been my year. What can happen? Nothing good at this point can happen. I’m thinking all the things that could go possibly be going on at this point. Finally the producer came out, she was pretty much in tears, she was like, ‘I’m so sorry, this is one of worst situations I ever had to deal with, I really loved you for this show, but, you know, at this point you haven’t been released so you can’t do the show.’”
With the reality series off the table, Brunson remains uncertain about what his next move will be. While he hopes Strikeforce/Showtime have plans to put him on a still-developing January lineup said to be “stacked”, the 28-year old isn’t assuming he’ll see action after the disappointing way things unfolded last week.
“It’s still tough to find fights. Nobody in Strikeforce is exactly raising their hand to fight me in the first place. That’s why I had to sit out so long to get the (Ronaldo Souza) fight,” said the disillusioned Brunson, adding his next move would be to head home to North Carolina. “(I’ve) got to re-evaluate what’s in my best interest. I’ve got two little girls, I’ve gotta do my best by them.”
The 9-2 Brunson suffered the first loss of his career in June after stepping in on short notice to face Kendall Grove, coming up short in a decision most viewers felt he deserved to win. He was last seen in mid-August, losing by way of TKO to Souza.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE