Derek Brunson Calls Out ‘Ring Card Dude’ Elias Theodorou

Derek Brunson has his sights set on his next opponent already and he’s hoping to face top 15 ranked middleweight Elias Theodorou in his return to action in 2019.

Derek Brunson is a realist when it comes to his fighting career.

After a pair of disappointing losses in 2018 to Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Israel Adesanya in back-to-back fights, Brunson knows he’s not going to get another top five opponent right away so he’s realistically looking at what makes sense for him when he returns next year.

He’s still ranked No. 8 in the world according to the UFC so Brunson knows there are options but he believes it’s rebuilding time, which means he’s not in a position to demand anybody ranked ahead of him.

That’s why Brunson is targeting a top 15 fighter who might want to try and take his spot as his next opponent.

“This kid Elias Theodorou — I’ve stepped up and fought every guy in the division. I’ll step up and fight anyone, anywhere, any time, it does not matter to me but at some point if you’re not getting it done against the top five or top 10 guys, so you need to take a step back and fight somebody else,” Brunson explained on Tuesday.  “You have a guy right there who has an opportunity.

“He’s on a three fight winning streak, he wants to propel his career, he wants to make more money. Are you willing to fight a top 10 guy who’s beaten [Lyoto]  Machida, who’s set records in the UFC? Or are you going to sit back and beat a bunch of unranked guys?”

A former ‘Ultimate Fighter winner, Theodorou has gone 5-1 over his past six fights while climbing to No. 13 in the middleweight rankings in the UFC.

Unfortunately, he’s fallen short in a pair of bouts against Thiago Santos and Brad Tavares that have likely kept him from jumping into the top 10 previously.

Brunson says this is Theodorou’s golden opportunity to prove he belongs amongst the elite middleweights by accepting his challenge and facing him in early 2019.

“He’s one of those guys, are you looking for a step up for a fight?” Brunson said about Theodorou. “He doesn’t say anything or ignores it or downplays it. One of his fans said ‘smart fighters pass on fights that don’t have any upside’ but I’ve got quality wins and I’m ranked No. 8 and he’s just in the top 15. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of upside to that.

“That’s definitely a fight that interests me.”

If Theodorou isn’t game, Brunson says anybody in the top 15 will do because he’s anxious to get back on a win streak but he still wants to face quality competition.

“I’ve fought everybody in the top five. I have to put on a winning streak,” Brunson explained. “I have to build back up so any guy in the top 15 is fair game. I’m game to fight anybody and that’s been shown throughout my career but guys who are coming up on win streaks who don’t have fights, I’m calling you out. Let’s do it.”

In a perfect world, Brunson says he’d like to face Theodorou as early as February but he’s willing to listen to whatever ideas the UFC has to offer in terms of timing if he gets that fight.

Right now he’s just making sure Theodorou is listening to his call out for a fight.

“Tell the ring card dude let’s go ahead,” Brunson said while referencing Theodorou’s work with Invicta Fighting Championships. “If he wants to make real money or if he wants to keep making chump change? Let’s do it.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.