Wilmington's Derek Brunson to return to UFC cage in July

Middleweight contender will fight in New Zealand as co-main event


Wilmington fighter Derek Brunson will return to the UFC Octagon on June 10.

Brunson has spent the last year in the top 10 of the UFC Middleweight ratings as he attempts to get a title shot against champion Michael Bisping.

Currently ranked No. 8, Brunson will reportedly take on No. 14 middleweight Daniel Kelly in Auckland, New Zealand as the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 110.

The fight was officially announced by the UFC earlier this month, after being rumored since late March.

Brunson will attempt to break a two-fight losing streak. After winning five straight, four by first-round knockout, Brunson was stopped by Robert Whittaker in November. Brunson hurt Whittaker early in the bout and blamed his loss on being too aggressive and running into a knockout punch while rushing in to finish the fight.

In a bout with UFC legend Anderson Silva in February, Brunson was perhaps too cautious, going the distance in a three-round fight. Brunson appeared to have the advantage, but the judges ruled in favor of Silva.

The bout with Kelly will be the second time in three fights that Brunson has traveled halfway around the world to fight close to the opponent’s home turf. The bout with Whittaker, a New Zealander, took place in Melbourne, Australia. Kelly, Brunson’s July opponent, is a native Australian.

Kelly represented Australia in four Summer Olympic games, most recently in 2012, competing in judo. He has a 13-1 record as an MMA fighter, including 6-1 since joining the UFC. Kelly has won his last four fights, three by decision, one by knockout. Most recently, he beat former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in March by split decision.

“Dan is a good fighter and he’s compiled a strong record in the UFC,” Brunson told MMA website Flo Combat. “He’s a very game and solid opponent and I’m definitely going in there to take him out in New Zealand. This is definitely going to be a big fight because the middleweight division is stacked with legends and contenders. Look at Dan Kelly. ... When you are talking about sports overall it’s tough to find anything bigger than the Olympics. To have competed in the Olympics four times is pretty serious business.”


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