Wilmington native Derek Brunson could be in store for a major bout in the near future following a first-round TKO against Brazilian Roan Carneiro as one of the co-main events during UFC Fight Night 83 in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Hoggard High School alum and All-American wrestler from UNC-Pembroke quickly pounced on Carnerio to record his third straight knockout, the latest coming at the 2:25 mark of round one.
“I’m a straight animal,” Brunson said during his interview inside the octagon immediately following the win. “I busted my butt. I’ve got a great group behind me. I’m a fierce man, what can I say.”
Carnerio attempted to gain ground against Brunson through the early stages of the fight, but a mishap against the cage allowed Brunson to swoop in on the veteran middleweight, landing a flurry of punches before the bout was stopped.
The win was Brunson’s fourth straight in the octagon, third by knockout. He snapped Carnerio’s six-fight winning streak and will move up the UFC Middleweight rankings, currently at No. 13.
Brunson improved to 6-1 in UFC and 15-3 in MMA, with his lone UFC loss coming two years ago against Yoel Romero in a battle Brunson controlled before getting knocked out in the third round. He has 11 first-round finishes in his 15 wins.
“I just wanted to come out here and put on a show,” Brunson added. “I’ve worked so hard. To come out and to have a letdown wouldn’t be good for me. It’s back to the drawing board, trying to get better on the way to the title. If I hit you one time and rock you, it’s go time, baby.”
During his post-match interview, Brunson also called out Pittsburgh Steelers wide out Antonio Brown, who was ringside at the event. He also told the fans in attendance and watching around the world to follow his social media handle on Twitter, @DerekBrunson.
Prior to the match, he credited his recent success to training efforts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while sharpening his striking ability to go along with a fierce ground game.
He was also asked among the middleweight contenders, who the next opponent would be. The question quickly drew the attention of Uriah Hall, ranked No. 11 in the division. Hall quickly tweeted to Brunson and UFC President Dana White, “Let’s do this!”