The Labor Day weekend is going to be a light one for the sport of MMA as the UFC celebrates the unofficial end of summer with UFC Vegas 36 from the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas to cap the weekend’s action.
Barring any last-minute postponements for any reason, UFC Vegas 36 will be a 10-fight card, highlighted by a middleweight main event. No. 5 contender Derek Brunson (22-7) will battle with No. 7 contender Darren Till (18-3-1) for a maximum of five rounds.
UFC Vegas 36 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Entering the UFC Vegas 36 main event on Saturday afternoon, Derek Brunson is the taller man, standing 6-foot-1, compared to Darren Till’s frame of six feet even.
In addition, Derek Brunson owns a 2 1/2-inch reach (77 inches even to 74 1/2 inches) advantage and a one-inch reach (43 inches to 42 inches) leg reach advantage over Darren Till going into your main event at UFC Vegas 36.
This fight was originally slated to have happened three weeks ago on Aug. 14, but the UFC moved to postpone this fight and a few other contests to Sept. 4 as the Aug. 14 card was never officially finalized by the promotion.
A planned staging in London on Aug. 14 was scrubbed due to COVID-19 concerns in England.
Derek Brunson in Career Twilight, But is Riding a Hot Streak
Although Derek Brunson enters the UFC Vegas 36 main event this Saturday at 37 years and eight months of age, don’t let his veteran prowess fool you, as the fifth-ranked contender at 185 lbs. has posted a 4-1 record in his last five UFC appearances.
Included in Brunson’s 4-1 stretch is an ongoing four-fight winning streak, extended last time out at the expense of Kevin Holland (unanimous decision) on March 20 during UFC Vegas 22‘s headlining bout on ESPN.
In his post-fight interview that night, Brunson challenged Paulo Costa.
“Costa, what’s up, man?”, he asked. “I see you just pulled out of a fight. I’m still here for you. Me and Costa, that sounds like a fight that I’d like to have.”
Another key storyline for the Derek Brunson camp heading into the UFC Vegas 36 main event is this one:
A win on Saturday would move him into a tie for second place in all-time wins at middleweight (14) with Anderson Silva and put him one step closer toward breaking the record for most wins at 185 lbs. (16), set by 2019 UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping.
Can Derek Brunson put it together one more time to run his streak to five consecutive fights and make one last run at the top of the pecking order at middleweight? Only time will tell.
Darren Till Aiming for More Consistency
In the other corner, although Darren Till is still under 30 heading into the UFC Vegas 36 main event, the No. 7 contender at middleweight has been inconsistent in his recent form, sporting a 2-3 record in his last five appearances.
Most recently, he dropped a unanimous decision at the hands of Robert Whittaker in July of 2020 in a fight that was moved up three weeks before it was originally planned to take place.
Since then, he’s had two scheduled fights fall by the wayside– including the originally-planned UFC on ABC 2 main event on April 10 against Marvin Vettori when Till had to withdraw from the show due to a collarbone injury, resulting in Kevin Holland accepting the fight on nine days’ notice.
Even though Till is on the right side of 30 years of age here, he has not fought in just over 13 months, so a big question here is just how much ring rust is he going to be able to shake off in this one– and can this main event be a springboard back to more consistency?
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC Vegas 36 main event looks to favor Derek Brunson, a boxer, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and former NCAA Division II All-American wrestler at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, compared to Darren Till, a purple belt in Brazilian submission wrestling.
Watch Out for Brunson’s Vicious Strikes
Derek Brunson has been known to mix up his offensive gameplan in his fights – something that was evident in his Aug. 1, 2020 bout against Edmen Shahbazyan.
At the end of the second round of the scheduled three, Brunson, having already dumped Shahbazyan to take the back mount, advanced to side control and scored with the ground and pound shots and grappled with him while landing vicious elbow shots before finally landing a flurry of shots to the head, giving Shahbazyan a nasty cut due to a left-handed shot.
Referee Herb Dean asked Shahbazyan whether or not he wanted to continue for a third round, having already been beaten up by the onslaught late in round two – only for Brunson to dump Shahbazyan again and land more ground and pound shots to end the fight.
If Derek Brunson is able to get Darren Till on the ground and grapple with him, it could be lights out pretty early in this one.
Don’t Count Out Darren Till
In the other corner, do not, under any circumstances, count Darren Till out here.
Of his 18 career MMA victories, 10 of them have come by way of knockout, including his 2017 victory against Donald Cerrone.
Although that evening’s main event was scheduled for five rounds, it didn’t even get out of the first.
That night, Darren Till landed 15 strikes to Cowboy Cerrone’s head at one point and just kept teeing off, despite having to withstand an early takedown effort from his opponent, effectively mixing up his left-handed punches, uppercuts, and elbows, folding Cerrone like an accordion and sending him down to the mat.
Till finished the fight with a brief flurry of ground and pound shots before referee Marc Goddard waved off the fight with 40 seconds remaining in the opening round.
If Darren Till is able to mix up his strikes and keep Derek Brunson on his feet, it may be the opening he needs to come in and try to steal the victory on Saturday.
The UFC Vegas 36 main event is going to be predicated exclusively on whether or not Darren Till is going to be able to keep Derek Brunson on his feet.
As little as a single Brunson takedown could be disastrous for Darren Till.
Make that fridge run before the fight, as you may not have the chance to do so during it.
Prediction: Derek Brunson by First-Round TKO.