Wednesday, February 1, 2023

UNCP Grad Eyes UFC Championship Belt

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Three-time All-American Derek Brunson wrestling for UNCP in 2005. Brunson, a native of Wilmington, N.C., has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Photo/UNCP Athletics

By: JaQuel Williams

UNCP alumni Derek Brunson looks to continue his recent dominance after he defeated Darren Till by way of a rear naked choke hold submission in the third round.

During his years at UNCP, Brunson accomplished a plethora of accolades including, being a three-time All-American wrestler, receiving the honor in 2003, 2005, and 2007, becoming a regional champion in those same years, being named the 2014 Young Alumnus of the Year, and being inducted into the 2016
class of the UNCP Hall of Fame.

Brunson is mainly known for his wrestling skills and possesses eye-opening knockout power, gaining 12 of his 23 victories by way of knockout.

Whether it be by knockout or by submission, Brunson’s ability to finish his opponents early on in the fight is prominently shown as he currently owns the record for the most first round finishes in UFC middleweight history.

In his post-fight interview, Brunson made it clear that he was sick of being overlooked and that his mind was set on fighting for the UFC Middleweight Championship.

“I fought everybody in this division, I’m just looking for my opportunity to fight for the title,” Brunson said.

Brunson’s success with the Braves and inside the cage has sent a wave of pride through the current UNCP wrestlers. The wrestling team, led by three-time All-American Nick Dagget.

Dagget, are coming off of a 7-0 season where they claimed the MEC as well as the NCAA SUPER REGION 2 championships.

“I feel a great sense of pride with the success of Derek Brunson’s mixed martial arts career so far, especially since I have met him personally and the wrestling team takes a trip once a year to train at his gym in Wilmington,” Dagget said.

After his victory, Brunson increased his overall MMA record to 23-7 and extended his current winning streak to 5.

This victory also makes Brunson the number 4 ranked UFC middleweight fighter.

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