MMA fighter Derek Brunson, who is gearing up to fight Anderson "The Spider" Silva at UFC 208 on Saturday, recently shared with The Gospel Herald how his Christian faith allows him to keep his career in perspective.
"I'm a Christian guy, I'm a firm believer in God, and I know where I'm coming from and where I'm going," he said. "I try to keep everything in perspective, and I try to be a good person in and outside."
The 33-year-old middleweight added, "When I'm inside that octagon, it's time to go, it's competition. But, when I'm outside, I'm a family man."
Brunson (16-4, 7-2 UFC) is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Robert Whittaker, ending his run of four straight wins by first-round knockout. When asked what it's like to prepare to fight a legend like Silva, Brunson said, "It's just another fight to me. I don't fight names."
"I just fight whoever and what are they good at, what am I good at, and I try to focus on that whether than who I'm fighting," he said. "It's a sport to me; it's competition out there, the name of the game. I go to the gym every day just as somebody goes to work, and I try to protect my craft and be really good at what I do. I look at it more as competition rather than fighting."
The North Carolina native explained that the same that drive that he had when competing in college as a wrestler led him to MMA fighting: "I actually graduated college and I was working as an in-home therapist for a couple years, and I got the desire to compete again in wrestling," he recalled. "I went back to pursue Olympic-style wrestling, and then I found MMA because I had some guys I was training with who were ameatur fighters. So, I just kind of fell into it."
While he's a successful MMA fighter today, Brunson revealed that growing up, he was frequently bullied by other kids.
"When I was younger I wasn't always the biggest of the bunch, so you have guys who try to pick fights and try to bully," he told GH. "They might have came from a better upbringing, so they had better gear, better shoes, so that came into part of the bullying, just making fun and that constant harassment."
Instead of letting the bullying discourage him, Brunson said it motivated him to succeed: "I handled it well, and I try to relay that," he said. "My daughters ...they don't have those same type of issues, where they didn't have the off-brand shoes, off-brand clothes, having to come up that way and deal with the scrutiny of other kids."
UFC 208 will take place Feb. 11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and is scheduled to be headlined by a featherweight title fight between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.