Middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson threw technique out the window when they went toe-to-toe in the UFC Fight Night 101 main event in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday night.
Brunson started off ridiculously wild, and the recklessness didn’t stop until he was finished by Whittaker — and it ultimately likely cost him the fight. He caught “The Reaper” early in the first round, but Whittaker’s chin held up and the 185-pound fighter was never severely hurt.
It wasn’t long before the tides turned. After Whittaker weathered the storm and Brunson appeared to be somewhat tired, Whittaker landed a bomb of his own and stunned the 32-year-old. That was followed by a barrage of strikes from Whittaker, including the finishing shot on the feet and a brief period of ground-and-pound.
What was the highlight of the fight?
I can say the whole fight, right? It was awesome. It was a slobber-knocker. It was a back-and-forth scrap. Lots happened and lots changed in just four minutes — we have a new middleweight in the title mix and a rising star is no longer rising. Bombs were thrown, bombs were landed. It was a fight to remember.
Where do these two go from here?
Whittaker should be one win away from a title shot at middleweight, but with Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza at the top and not fighting for the belt next, I’m not so sure one fight will do it. I think Gegard Mousasi is in the same position as Whittaker, so I say match them up and see who walks away with title shot aspirations still standing.
It’s back to the drawing board Brunson, who had a very nice winning streak snapped on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to his wrestling roots a little bit in his next outing, because he clearly can’t stand with the best strikers in the division. A fight that makes sense is Brunson vs. Chris Weidman, who’s fallen off rapidly since his title loss in December.
Watch now, later, or never?
Was there tons and tons of skill involved in Whittaker’s smashing of Brunson? Well, not really. Should you watch? Absolutely. Right away? Yup.