Recent UFC contender signs with PFL, books championship card fight

The PFL added another former top ranked UFC fighter to its roster.

By: Tim Bissell | 2 months ago
Recent UFC contender signs with PFL, books championship card fight
IMAGO/ Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports,

From UFC 295 to free agency to PFL championships

A few weeks ago Derek Brunson was a top ten UFC middleweight gearing up to face Roman Dolidze at UFC 295. A win there could have squashed an upstart contender and put Brunson up towards the top five and striking distance of UFC champ Sean Strickland (one of the few 185 lbers Brunson has not fought in the promotion).

However, that booking was scrapped and Brunson was surprisingly cut from the promotion. Seemingly the fighter and the promotion had agreed to part ways. That’s something that happens easily if the promotion doesn’t want to keep you. If the promotion wants you to stay, you need to fight like hell to get out (just ask Francis Ngannou).

Brunson has now popped up in PFL, like the aforementioned Ngannou, and he’s landed a fight on the championship card against a two time million dollar winner.

Derek Brunson’s first PFL opponent revealed

Derek Brunson will fight Ray Cooper III, per a report by MMA Junkie. That fight is scheduled for the 2023 PFL Championships on November 24, which take place at The Anthem in Washington D.C.

Cooper is a two-time PFL welterweight champion. He was eliminated from the 2022 PFL season with a loss to Carlos Leal. He hasn’t fought since a win over Brett Cooper a few months after that.

Brunson comes to the PFL with a 23-9 pro record and a who’s who list of opponents that includes Israel Adesanya, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Robert Whittaker, Dricus du Plessis, Kevin Holland, Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza.

He left the UFC after back-to-back stoppage losses to Jared Cannonier and Du Plessis. That snapped a five fight winning streak for the 39-year-old.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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