The veteran middleweight contender and the promotion have parted ways following an 11-year, 21-fight run, UFC officials confirmed with MMA Fighting on Thursday.
Brunson, 39, was expected to face Dolidze in a matchup of ranked contenders on Nov. 11 at Madison Square Garden at UFC 295, however Dolidze tweeted Wednesday that Brunson was out of the bout and instead called to fight either Robert Whittaker or Jared Cannonier.
“No matter what happened, wish you good luck in your next journey,” Dolidze added Thursday following a post by the automated UFC Roster Watch account regarding Brunson’s exit.
Brunson’s longtime manager Ali Abdelaziz issued a statement to MMA Fighting regarding his release from the UFC on Thursday.
“Derek Brunson has been under the UFC umbrella for 11 years,” Abdelaziz said. “He had an amazing career there. The last seven years he’s been in the top 10 rankings. The UFC was amazing to him there, helped shape who he is today and I’m very grateful for the opportunity he was given. He has to move on and looking forward to what comes next for him.”
Brunson (23-9) has been an active contender in the UFC’s 185-pound division since joining the promotion in 2012 following the dissolution of Strikeforce. The North Carolina native racked up a 14-7 record in the octagon, highlighted by two separate five-fight win streaks that carried him to the brink of title contention.
Over that time, Brunson fought a who’s who of top middleweights, taking on the likes of Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya, Whittaker, Lyoto Machida, Yoel Romero, Ronaldo Souza, Cannonier, and Dricus Du Plessis, among others.
At the time of his UFC exit, Brunson was the No. 8 ranked middleweight in the promotion’s media-generated rankings.
He is currently MMA Fighting’s No. 11 ranked middleweight in the world.
Guilherme Cruz and Damon Martin contributed to this report.