Four-time Strikeforce veteran Derek Brunson (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is making his way to the UFC.
USA TODAY Sports today learned that Brunson has verbally agreed to replace an injured Karlos Vemola (9-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) and now meets Chris Leben (22-8 MMA, 12-7 UFC) on the pay-per-view-opening first bout of next week's UFC 155 event.
UFC executives have yet to officially announce the switch, but verbal agreements are in place and bout agreements are expected to be finalized shortly.
Brunson looks to rebound from a pair of back-to-back losses after losing via knockout to former Strikeforce middleweight champion at this past August's "Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman" event and dropping a contentious split decision to Kendall Grove on the regional stage under the Missouri-based ShoFight banner.
Prior to the recent setbacks, Brunson was a highly-touted prospect who won the first nine fights of his career – a run that included seven first-round stoppage wins.
Brunson follows female champion Ronda Rousey as Strikeforce vets migrating to the UFC octagon. The future of that promotion remains unclear with officials from UFC, Strikeforce and broadcast-partner Showtime all declining to comment. However, the company's Jan. 12 event is widely expected to be its last.
No offense to vemola but if it was him or the Crippler to get hurt, I'd rather it be him. War leben!!!
No offense to Brunson but they couldn't find a better replacement? This guy is coming off 2 losses in lesser promotions, right? No disrespect intended whatsoever. I'm glad there is still a fight.
Only a week and a half notice, maybe not. It's not a bad fight coming from a 1 year layoff either.
Handsome Jack - Only a week and a half notice, maybe not. It's not a bad fight coming from a 1 year layoff either.
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Here we go!
Damn it, I was excited for this scrap!