Derek Brunson will face Anderson Silva at UFC 208 this Saturday, but one must wonder how much the 41-year-old Silva has left in the tank, especially after losing four of his last five fights.
“I think everything remains,” Brunson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m not the type of guy to overlook people or thinking they’re diminished. If somebody is out there competing, they’re fully capable and confident in what they can bring to the table. He’s considered widely by everybody the greatest of all time. The skills are definitely not going to diminish. He might lose a little bit of speed, but he’s still there in person.”
Brunson, a middleweight contender, admits that he sometimes gets “greedy” with opponents and leads with his face. He doesn’t plan on doing that against Silva.
“You’re going up against a guy who’s a better counter striker than the (other guys) you’ve faced,” Brunson said. “It’s like, hey, don’t do that again or you’re going to look silly. It’s been a point of emphasis.”
UFC 208 will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Brunson, 33, is eager to fight in New York.
“I think it’ll be good,” he said. “I think it’ll be big. UFC, MMA has been trying to get in the state of New York for a long time, and they finally got it done. It’s good, man. New York has some passionate fans, a lot of people that live in the area. I’m constantly in the area coming out here. I have a lot of family in New York. It’s a great place to fight, and I’m sure the fans will be very excited.”
Brunson (16-4) was asked if the fans inside the arena will be rooting for him or Silva.
“We’ll see, but all that matters is me going out there and doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Brunson said. “And then hey, we’ll convert them if they’re not.”
Brunson added that if he were fighting Silva in Brazil, the support for Silva would be overwhelming. That’s not necessarily the case for Brunson fighting in the United States.
“Americans are crazy,” he said. “In other countries, you’re going to get booed out of the arena if you’re fighting one of their countrymen. In the U.S., they’re going to go with the guy they like the most. I don’t know. It’s kind of up and down. You never can tell.”
Brunson’s ultimate goal, of course, is to become middleweight champion, which would involve toppling current champ Michael Bisping – and perhaps several other fighters, including Luke Rockhold, along the way.
“This sport is crazy,” Brunson said. “There’s just so many ways to win and lose and just so many different things to train. You can come in with your best attribute, but then you have to learn all these other things that you’re not good at and you have to get good at these things and bring everything up. You really never can master everything, but you can get good at everything.”
Brunson was asked who the top star in the sport is.
“I guess you have to say Conor,” he said. “He’s running the show, controlling a lot of things, keeping everything however he wants to do things. So I would say Conor is the guy right now running the show.”
McGregor, of course, has become a worldwide icon and has elevated his brand to a completely different stratosphere. He also hasn’t been afraid to publicly spar with Dana White and demand more money.
Tiki Barber wondered if McGregor demanding more money helps other fighters with their purses as well.
“No, it doesn’t help us,” Brunson said. “It only helps him. It would be nice if it helped everybody, but it’s more of a Conor thing. It doesn’t help the masses. it just helps him.”