Derek Brunson is ready to derail a hype train this weekend.
Brunson takes on Edmen Shahbazyan in a middleweight bout that will headline UFC Vegas 5 on Saturday.
It will be Shahbazyan’s first event headliner with many propping up the unbeaten 22-year-old to be the next big thing in the sport as well as a future UFC champion.
Brunson, however, believes he will be the biggest test of Shahbazyan’s career thus far.
“This is definitely his biggest test to date,” Brunson told MMA Fighting. “He hasn’t faced anyone like me yet. As seasoned, as gritty, a guy that can match him on speed and strength.
“I’ve been around. I’ve fought in the big fights. To this date, definitely his toughest test.”
Brunson Wants To Get Back In Title Picture
It’s hard to argue with Brunson there.
After all, he has faced some of the biggest names in the sport such as Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza and Robert Whittaker to name a few. Not to mention, he carries fight-ending power in his left hand.
And while many are expecting Shahbazyan to use him as a stepping stone, Brunson plans on ending the hype train and getting himself back into title contention.
“It’s a high profile fight,” Brunson said. “Definitely need to go out there and set the tone. This fight can catapult me into another big fight. Where they’re talking him as a potential title challenger, the same thing they were saying about the last guy I fought [Ian Heinisch] and kind of took his hype away from him.
“This guy right here, he’s talking about being the youngest champion. I go out here and beat him up, that takes everything away. He’s got to reset and that puts me back in the picture and people will start talking about me and my title hunt also.”
That said, Brunson does acknowledge Shahbazyan’s talent.
“He’s pretty solid,” Brunson added. “He’s good at what he does. He’s a consistent guy. He likes to come forward, striking based. He’s solid. He’s young, energetic and he hasn’t lost so he’s confident.”
How do you think the fight plays out this weekend?