Wilmington native Derek Brunson has made a living as a UFC fighter.
Now he is chasing another dream.
In March, Brunson opened Brunson Fitness and MMA and that allows him to train and teach at the same time.
“I have always wanted to do it and give back, and get the culture started around here," Brunson said of his gym opening. “Give guys who have the dream, and let them know it’s possible to work hard and be successful at a high level and just get that start.”
Carma Radford of Wilmington started training with Brunson in January, and is hoping to fight professionally.
“It takes a very strong person who is determined and passionate about it," Radford said. "I have played sports by whole life and the conditions (of MMA training) is the craziest thing I have ever done.”
Brunson is ranked in the top 10 in the world in the middleweight division.
James Brown, who is also pursuing a pro career, is taking advantage of an opportunity to learn from one of the best fighters in the world.
“With the way he teaches, it’s a little easier to learn because he knows everyone is different," Brown said. "Everyone has a different body type and learns differently. So he breaks it down in a way so everyone can learn the way he teaches.”
Brunson is still learning how to impart his fighting wisdom to others.
“When it comes to teaching sometimes, I know how to do it, but teaching is different," Brunson said. "I have to break it down piece by piece, and it helps me to make it sharper and cleaner and focus instead of just going through the motions and doing it.”
Brunson's next fight is scheduled for June 11 when he will face Dan Kelly in New Zealand at UFC Fight Night 110.
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