Fans knew it would be only be a matter of time before fighters formerly calling Strikeforce home would start to seep into the UFC’s ranks – they just didn’t realize it would take place before 2013. However, middleweight Derek Brunson was recently announced as a replacement for Karlos Vemola against Chris Leben at UFC 155, giving the 28-year old an opportunity to end the year on a winning note in a high-profile bout.
Though Brunson received less than two weeks notice to get ready for the rumble, he apparently sees a silver lining in a shortened camp and, even if there wasn’t, the thought of turning down an opportunity to see action in the Octagon never crossed his mind.
“If you can’t get up for the UFC, you can’t get up for nothing when it comes to the fight world,” explained the excited Brunson in an interview with the UFC’s website. “So I definitely look to that as my ultimate motivation and that’s gonna get me through the fight more so than anything. Obviously I didn’t have the longest training camp, but it’s a great opportunity and a lot of people would love to be in my spot. I’m definitely not looking to go out there and lay down. I’m going out there to win and do work.”
There’s no question the clash is the biggest of Brunson’s eleven-fight career given the stakes but it seems he already has his butterflies flying in formation given the need to focus on being ready right away rather than being overwhelmed with analysis.
“I have an extensive college wrestling background, and I also fought in Strikeforce, which is a big stage, so I definitely wasn’t worried about the jitters thing so much. But two months to analyze and think about your opponent, ‘Man, he’s really good here,’ or ‘He can really do this.’ Now it’s just kinda like okay, I know what he does, let’s go out there and do it and stop what he’s doing,” assessed Brunson, who was already in shape when he got the call to lock horns with Leben.
Brunson is 9-2 in his career but suffered a quick knockout in his most recent rumble, a fact no doubt leaving Leben licking his chops. Their match-up is expected to kick off the PPV portion of Saturday night’s card.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE