"I touched him up a lot. I definitely out-struck him. I'm hearing mixed reactions about the fight. A lot of people are hitting me up saying congratulations and that it was a big win over a guy like Leben in my UFC debut, and then you got the other fighters saying I'm just a boring wrestler. I know Dana said he didn't like the fight. But I think those were the people that were misinformed and didn't know I took it on 8 days' notice. It is what it is and that's on them. My job is to go out there and fight and to get better every fight. I just look to improve in every fight and have people change their beliefs about me or whatever," stated UFC middleweight Derek Brunson, who talked about his recenty vidtory over Chris Leben, his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the win over Chris Leben at UFC 155. How did it feel to get that first UFC win in your debut with the organization?
DB: It felt good, man, to get back in the cage and get a quality victory, especially in the UFC. I feel fully vindicated.
PC: Anytime someone takes a fight on a week's notice, I have to ask, what was your mindset and the thought process when being told it would be against a dangerous guy like Leben?
DB: (Laughing) I just said hey why not. Stylistically, I thought it was a good fight for me, so I decided to take it.
PC: That was a serious gamble because you were coming off of a very controversial loss to Kendall Grove and then the knockout loss to Jacare. No fighter wants to lose three in a row. How important was the Leben fight and the win?
DB: Ah, it was very important. Like you said, nobody wants to drop three in a row because you start questioning everything, like how the UFC is going to view it. I wouldn't have liked that at all and I would have started second guessing some things. I definitely felt like I needed to get the win, whether I took the fight on short notice or not.
PC: Were you in the gym working out or was it a "got the call and run to the gym" type of deal?
DB: Nah, I got the call and I ran to the gym and started working on things. I had just got back to Albuquerque like a couple of days before I got the call, so I had 10 days before the fight and 8 days to prepare because I was leaving, flying out Wednesday the day after Christmas on the 26th. So I was just at the gym pretty much just running and hitting pads. But when I started my camp, I was eating bad food and junk food.
PC: I was just about to say it definitely wasn't the ideal situation to take a fight on short notice being that it was the holidays and I'm sure you were enjoying good eating and family time, and just kind of being lazy. Where was your weight at?
DB: My weight was about 207, so I had a little bit of weight to drop. I had about 22 pounds to drop in the 8 days, but it definitely made it tough because it was the holidays and I was spending time with my family. But sometimes in life, you have to take sacrifices to get what you want.
PC: With the little bit of time that you had to prepare for him, what was the game plan going into the fight?
DB: The game plan was to pretty much just keep my hands up no matter what. Obviously the fight starts on our fight, so I wanted to keep my hands up, use my wrestling, and I actually thought I could knock him out on his over aggressiveness. I thought I could catch him being real aggressive and cut the angle and knock him out or I saw myself passing his guard and submitting him on the ground, maybe out of side control. I just wanted to stay patient, keep my hands up, and take my time and not be in a rush. Leben is known as an aggressive guy, so I just wanted to wait for him to make some mistakes.
PC: I know he's now saying he let you hit him just to get you to swing, but you were able to touch him up a little bit. At any point, did you think you could finish him?
DB: Yeah, I touched him up a lot. I definitely out-struck him. I'm hearing mixed reactions about the fight. A lot of people are hitting me up saying congratulations and that it was a big win over a guy like Leben in my UFC debut, and then you got the other fighters saying I'm just a boring wrestler. I know Dana said he didn't like the fight. But I think those were the people that were misinformed and didn't know I took it on 8 days' notice. It is what it is and that's on them. My job is to go out there and fight and to get better every fight. I just look to improve in every fight and have people change their beliefs about me or whatever.
PC: It's a double-edge sword because in one sense, you have Dana bashing Jon Jones for turning down a fight on 7 days' notice, and then you accept a fight on 8 days' notice and he says your performance wasn't good enough basically so you're damned if you do and damned if you don't I guess. Is this a "win now and look good later" type of deal for you?
DB: Yeah, for sure, because like you said, you never know. I want to finish fights because in the UFC, you get bonuses for knocking people out and for submitting guys, so I wasn't going in there trying to lay on him you know? I took him down in the first round and I was dropping elbows on him, I had a submission attempt I had him in a head and arm but I couldn't finish that. He got out of that. I had him mounted he's seasoned. The guy is seasoned. The guy fought Anderson Silva. What am I gonna show him that Anderson hasn't? He's seen a lot. He's had like 20 fights in the UFC, so I just had to be relaxed in the position that I was in.
PC: Didn't appear like you suffered any damage. When would you like to come back, and now that you probably won't have to take another fight where you're just thrown into the fire, is there anyone in particular you would like to fight next?
DB: That's a good question. I have been looking at the middleweight roster before I used to look at the Strikeforce roster and kind of pick out guys I wanted to fight. In the UFC, everybody is tough. My honest opinion is I really don't care who I fight. I want to fight soon though. I think March 16th, that's when we are trying to have a fight, so me and Carlos Condit can get a good training camp in. I was his main training partner for the St. Pierre fight, so I think that would be good for both of us to get a good training camp in because he's fighting Rory McDonald on that card. We train together, so I hope we can fight on the same card. That's what I'm gunning for right now.
PC: Mentally, what was it like going from Strikeforce fighter to main card UFC fighter on a fight in which you took on 8 days' notice?
DB: I wasn't nervous at all. I didn't have any jitters. I keep telling people I saw on one side you got Mike Tyson and on the other side you got MC Hammer and those are guys who I watched when I was growing up and when I was young. I remember dancing around to MC Hammer and watching Mike Tyson knocking people out and biting ears and stuff like that, so it was a crazy moment in that sense. But when I'm in the cage and that door closes I have no emotions. It's kind of crazy because I'm not nervous at all; I'm not hyped up at all either. It's like no feeling and it's weird. I can't really explain it or explain why, but I'm pretty much calm.
PC: Hell of a win and I look forward to seeing you back inside of the Octagon, so hopefully you get on that March card. Is there anything else you want to say?
DB: I just want to thank all of the people that support me: Jackson's MMA camp, my camp back at home, and all of my sponsors, and if anybody else wants to sponsor me, hit me up on Twitter @DerekBrunsonMMA or hit my manager up Mike Kogan and thanks to you for having me.