Just two fights into his UFC career, Ian Heinisch is already set to square off with a top-eight opponent.
Saturday night at UFC 241, Heinisch (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) faces perennial contender Derek Brunson (19-7 MMA, 10-5 UFC) on the pay-per-view main card at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Heinisch isn’t fazed or surprised by his rapid ascent up the UFC middleweight division’s ladder. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – and Heinisch believes his speedy climb on the big stage makes up for the his delayed entry.
“I always knew I was on the level with these guys,” Heinisch told MMA Junkie. “I feel like I took the long road to get to the UFC. Knocking out (Gabriel) Checco for the LFA title, then having to go through Contender Series, I’ve been working my whole life for this.
“I started with wrestling at age 11. Then boxing and five years with Marc Montoya. I’m not really too surprised. It’s pretty surreal though to see it in front of my eyes how fast things are going.”
The 31-year-old Factory X product sees Brunson as versatile and, at times, unpredictable. Sometimes, Brunson has stayed on the outside and point-fought his opponent. Other times, the 15-fight veteran has gotten wild and charged directly at his opponent. Brunson’s sporadic takedown attempts keep opponents on their toes.
Heinisch can never be positive, but he feels confident in thinking a wild, flustered Brunson is the most likely candidate to step into the cage with him.
“I think I’m going to put that pressure on him, get him emotional, get him swinging hard,” Heinisch said. “He might try to take me down, but I think it’s going to be a dogfight, a fast-paced brawl. Usually those turn out very well for him. That’s how I see it going.
“… I see it ending like some of his worst finish losses have ended where he gets emotional, swinging, chasing me around the cage. I’m going to come forward like he is. It’s going to be a super exciting fight. I’m expecting that KO. I want to be in that bonus club.”
A win over Brunson would be Heinisch’s third in as many fights with the UFC. With wins over Cezar Ferreira and Antonio Carlos Junior already on his resume, Heinisch would likely get a top-five opponent with a victory over Brunson. “The Hurricane” already has three names in mind.
“My team plans on me getting one more fight by the end of this year,” Heinisch said. “First, obviously taking care of Brunson. Maybe calling out the winner of that Jack Hermansson fight with the “Killa Gorilla” (Jared Cannonier), or see what ‘Jacare’ (Ronaldo Souza) is up to. I feel like I’ve fought all of the best jiu-jitsu guys, but he’s probably the best. Might as well take him out too. We’ll see. To get in the top five by the end of this year is my personal goal.”
Jack Hermansson (20-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Jared Cannonier (12-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) will square off in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 18 on Sept. 28 in Copenhagen. Ronaldo Souza is not currently booked, though he has been calling for a fight with Kelvin Gastelum for UFC 244 on Nov. 2 in New York City.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Ian Heinisch expects 'emotional, swinging' Derek Brunson will result in knockout win at UFC 241