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Published: Sat, December 03, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Robert Whittaker takes out Derek Brunson to move up MW rankings

Robert Whittaker takes out Derek Brunson to move up MW rankings

Thanks to his admittedly careless effort last night, however, it's Whittaker who is now on the very outside of the title picture. However, the Australia-based Kiwi ate a haymaker for his trouble, which forced him to defend frantically as Brunson looked to score a knockout. But as the bout went on, Brunson became more and more reckless, which Whittaker duly took advantage of, following up a crunching head-kick with a series of punches, forcing the referee to stop the bout.

The kick cracked Brunson cleanly on the side of the chin, sending him backwards against the cage.

And a few more unanswered ground strikes was all it needed for Whittaker to claim the most significant win of his career as he announced himself as a legitimate threat to the top contenders in the UFC's 185lb middleweight division.

Whittaker (17-4 MMA, 8-2 UFC) remained unbeaten inside the octagon at middleweight when he rallied from an early deficit and landed big shots that dropped and stopped Brunson (16-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) before the end of the opening frame.

"I had a solid game plan and knew he was going to come out tough, but I had no idea he was going to come out that hard", Whittaker told Fox Sports post-fight. After defending another takedown, Whittaker planted a hard left hook to the jaw of his opponent, visibly rocking Brunson. When we were set to fight [in Melbourne] I got pumped to fight him and things happen. "Fought a risky game tonight", Brunson wrote on Facebook. "I don't think I've hit my prime or anywhere near it and I look forward to the leaps and gains I'm continuously making".

"I had him hurt. I'm ready for my shot". "But I hit just as hard". "The whole division understands that I'm for real and I'm here to stay".

Now ranked seventh, Whittaker insisted that he was ready for the division's top five on the back of the win.

"I'm ready for those top five contenders", he said.

UFC Middleweight main event victor Robert Whittaker found it amusing when his opponent underestimated his toughness and tried to capitalise early.

In the co-main event, Jake Matthews' loss to Andrew Holbrook rounded out a mixed night for the Australian contingent.

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