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Derek Brunson is not impressed with Ian Heinisch's UFC work so far

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – UFC middleweight Derek Brunson is always paying attention to the competition in his division, so he wasn’t surprised to hear from Ian Heinisch.

After the up-and-comer dropped his name a few times, Brunson figured it was just a matter of time before they were matched. And sure enough, a booking materialized for UFC 241 on Saturday at Honda Center.

“There’s not too many guys that I can fight, being that I’m ranked in the top 10 and I have been,” Brunson told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “They always want ranked guys to fight ranked guys. I knew he was one of the guys if he beat (Antonio Carlos Junior).”

Heinisch’s victory over “Shoeface” in May certified his status as a threat. But Brunson attributes that more to the shortcomings of Junior than his opponent’s superiority.


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Brunson compares his first-round stoppage over expert grappler Dan Kelly to Junior’s third-round loss, where the Brazilian tired and was stopped late.

“I’ve seen (Heinisch) in fights, and he’s been getting beat,” Brunson said. “I saw his second fight, and he was losing the fight. All of a sudden, ‘Shoeface’ (Junior), as he always does, he gets tired in fights. He’s one of those guys you can break.

“It wasn’t really more of Ian broke him. He just broke.”

Heinisch (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has promised to take Brunson (19-7 MMA, 10-5 UFC) out of his element by making him emotional. Brunson said that’s a very old strategy that doesn’t work any more.

“I’m past all that,” Brunson said. “I’m in the important part of my career where I gotta start making waves and keep moving forward. I don’t like losing.

“That’s not going to work. The mental game is strong. He’s going to be nervous, and he’s saying that because he hopes that’s what’s going to happen. But we’re not going to do that. We’re going to take our time, strategically pick him apart, and when the time comes, finish the fight.”


Derek Brunson def. Elias Theodorou at UFC on ESPN+ 9: Best photos

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