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Derek Brunson: First ‘Jacare’ Souza fight was too soon, but I’m ready for UFC on FOX 27

CHARLOTTE – As far as Derek Brunson is concerned, the timing was off the last time he fought Ronaldo Souza.

It was August 2012 in now-defunct Strikeforce when Souza needed just 41 seconds to dispatch Brunson via knockout, and both men were at very different points in their respective careers.

Souza (24-5 MMA, 7-2 UFC) was experienced in the fight game, roughly nine years into it. The knockout of Brunson  (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) was his second victory of what proved to be an eight-fight streak that lasted until 2015. Brunson, meanwhile, was still getting his feet underneath him, just two years into what is now a a seven-year MMA career.

So needless to say, the circumstances surrounding their UFC on FOX 27 headliner Saturday at Spectrum Center in Charlotte are different, which Brunson hopes will translate into a different result.

“The first time I fought him I was very young in the sport,” Brunson said after his open workout. “I came straight from college from wrestling, didn’t have a lot of skills. I was kind of just raw. I was kind of ahead of my time. I was really good, so I had to get put in the big fights at the time, but I wasn’t ready for the big fights.

“But now I’m ready. I’m kind of peaked out. This is going to be one of the better versions of me.”

That’s what Brunson has displayed in his most recent bouts. Following a controversial unanimous-decision loss to Anderson Silva to open 2017, Brunson rebounded with consecutive knockout losses of Dan Kelly and ex-champion Lyoto Machida to close out the year.

Brunson, No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, believes third consecutive win against the No. 5 Souza should position him well for a title shot.

“Big fight. Big for my career,” Brunson said. “Every time I fight, I’m always in a big fight as of late. Everything is big. Everything is amplified, so it would just mean a great deal to help propel me to the top.”

“I’m fighting the No. 3 (official UFC rankings) guy in the world,” he continued. “So, to go out here and look impressive against him, for sure. Big things coming in the future. I could be one fight away (from a title shot).”

For more on UFC on FOX 27, stay tuned to the UFC Rumorssection of the site.

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