Middleweights Derek Brunson (16-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Robert Whittaker (16-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) meet in the main event at UFC Fight Night 101 in Melbourne, Australia this Saturday. This matchup found itself on the main event after an injury forced former titleholder Luke Rockhold to withdraw from his rematch against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. This weekend’s card continues the UFC’s seven week stretch of live events.
Brunson currently ranked 8th in the UFC middleweight rankings holds the second longest active streak in the division tied with champion Michael Bisping and Krzysztof Jotko and only behind Yoel Romero. The American’s win streak features four impressive first round knockouts which is the longest among active fighters and ties him with Shane Carwin for the longest in modern UFC history.
During his time in the UFC Brunson’s only defeat came at the hands of title challenger Romero back in January 2014 but has notched recent victories over the likes of Roan Carneiro and Uriah Hall. With Romero recently serving a suspension for an anti-doping violation Brunson has made his ambitions for a rematch very clear.
“I have unfinished business with Romero,” Brunson said. “That’s a guy who had some stuff come up that I didn’t like. I was pretty much dominating this guy. I asked myself after the fight – everybody said, ‘Oh, you need to work on the cardio a little bit.’ I’m like, ‘Uh, I don’t know if that’s the cardio.’
“This guy popped for some PEDs. … It’s monitored now. Whether he says he knowingly took it or not, it doesn’t really matter.”
The 32 year old expects Romero to walk away with the title when he and Bisping eventually meet In the Octagon and despite both Rockhold and Souza who were originally meant to headline the card believing they deserve a title shot Brunson believes his history with the Cuban and his current win streak should be enough to earn him his shot at the title.
“I’m looking forward to my rematch – I’ve been very adamant about it,” Brunson said. “If he has the title, I’m looking for my rematch. When you have guys riding huge winning streaks, you need to be rewarded.
“I’ve got to handle my business this weekend. But after that, let the games begin.”
Standing in the way of Brunson and possible title contention is Robert Whittaker who has also found some great form of his own carrying a five fight win streak into this weekend’s bout. Whittaker moved up to the middleweight division in 2014 and has reaped the rewards currently sitting with a record of 4-0 at 185 lbs.
With all the focus on the heavy hands of Brunson Whittaker’s power may have went overlooked with 12 of the Australians 16 victories coming by stoppage.
In one of the weaker UFC Fight Night cards these two red hot middleweights will hope to put on a show in this potential five round thriller but with the power both men contain do not be surprised if this fight doesn’t make it past the first round.