Derek Brunson felt a win over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza would position him perfectly in the UFC’s middleweight division as a top contender.
Instead, the 34-year-old from North Carolina was unable to avenge a 2012 loss to Souza, falling again via knockout in the first round. The bout served as the main event for UFC on FOX 27 from Charlotte and the Spectrum Center.
“I thought I was doing good early and had the speed advantage,” Brunson said. “I covered up kind of lazy and the kick crept through. I blocked it, but it crept through. It’s tough to lose this way but I’ll take it on the chin and improve.”
Souza, a former Strikeforce champion, saw his opening and took advantage. The loss snapped a two-fight win streak for Brunson who was coming off finishes of Lyoto Machida and Dan Kelly.
“Back to the drawing board,” he said. “The only mistake I made was relaxing and thinking I was that much quicker than him. I’ll just get back to keeping it tight.”
After fighting three times in 2016 and three more times last year, Brunson is hoping to stay active once again in 2018 despite suffering the loss.
“Take a little bit of time off and get back to training and line something up,” he said.