In life you go through good times and bad times. Sometimes you go through the positives more than the negatives, or vice versa. For UFC middleweight Derek Brunson, more bad than good has happened in 2012. But that can all change in one night, as the Strikeforce import will be making his UFC debut as he kicks off the main card of UFC 155 against Chris Leben.
Brunson started off the year undefeated and was starting to prepare for a key middleweight bout with former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in March. That is where it all started to unravel for Brunson.
"Me and Jacare were initially supposed to fight in March," Brunson told Bleacher Report. "I get to Albuquerque about six weeks before the fight to start my training camp. After being there for two days, my daughter got sick with a rare disease called Kawasaki Disease from Japan. The doctors didn't even know how she got the disease because only one percent of the people in the United States catch the disease.
"I had to fly home and stay with my daughter for five days. I almost didn't come back to camp. The doctor said, though, she would be OK. So I headed back to Albuquerque to resume training for the fight. Then two weeks before the fight, I go get my eye exam from the ophthalmologist because he was the only one available at that time.
"The eye doctor joked around and said you got bad vision. I was like, I know. He sent the exam to the Ohio State Athletic Commission, and they said I didn't pass my eye exam, so I wouldn't be able to fight. The fight gets pulled, then tried to get a fight and couldn't get one lined up. I had to take a fight with Kendall Grove (ShoFight 20) on three days notice just to make a little bit of money.
"I took the fight and everybody told me I beat him (Grove) down. I thought I definitely won every single round and they gave a split decision win for Grove. I lost to Jacare in August and here I am now. It has definitely been a crazy year for me."
It was then speculated that in October, after not being able to secure another fight in Strikeforce, Brunson went and tried for The Ultimate Fighter Season 17, which premieres on January 22. The North Carolina native made the show, but another obstacle got in his path, and he wasn't allowed to do the show.
"I was trying to get another fight in Strikeforce considering I only had one fight this year," Brunson stated. "I was trying to get another fight before the end of the year. From what I was being told, I wasn't going to be fighting the rest of the year. I was like 'alright I have to make money to get fights.' I asked if I could tryout for The Ultimate Fighter. I kept pushing and pushing, bugging them (Zuffa) and finally I got a yes from up top.
"I tried out for the show, got there and was told if I get selected for the show we will deal with it when it comes, but you should be good to go. I tried out, went very well and was selected for the show. Then the day of the weigh-ins, the producer came to me and said, 'You're not released (from Brunson's Strikeforce contract), so you won't be able to do the show. We've been working up to the last minute to you released, but it is not going to happen. This is the worst thing I've had to tell somebody.'"
At this point, Brunson was running out of options of how to make money and provide for his two daughters. Brunson had been a case worker before getting into fighting and was very close to going back to his old profession before getting offered the fight with Leben.
"I was feeling like I was going to be done with MMA," Brunson stated. "I have to start working. I have two little girls and they are the most important thing to me. I have to make sure that I am a dad first and I am doing right by them and making the best decisions for them. I was like MMA was fun, but I have to find a job. I actually received some job offers. I was really close to taking them, but I was being told for a while my next would be in the UFC. It was just starting to come to that."
Now with the Leben fight set for tonight, Brunson looks back at this year and feels this is the worst year of his career and life.
"I would definitely say (2012) was the worst year of my life, just pure chaos," Brunson stated. "Considering all the things that went on not only in MMA, but outside of MMA. I started out 9-0, pretty much steamrolling guys. Then the toughest thing in MMA was getting fights. I came from being used to fighting every other month if not once a month.
"I was used to fighting frequently. I have only been fighting for two years, so I was getting used to a lot of fights. Then all of a sudden, it came to a halt and just trying to get fights."
Unless stated otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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