Late Push Up to Main Event
Saturday night brings us the Main Event debut of Ronda Rousey’s prodigy, Edmen Shahbazyan vs Derek Brunson. A fight that seems to have been in the works for ages is finally coming together on Saturday night.
Shahbazyan, an undefeated prospect from Ronda Rousey’s former camp, Glendale Fight Club, has set the UFC alight since his Contender Series break-through. Only going the distance in his UFC debut, the prodigy has taken out every other former foe in the first round. With frightening efficiency.
Brunson, on the other hand, is a seasoned UFC veteran now. A perennial contender, Brunson has became somewhat of a stepping-stone for younger fighters. He’ll be out to try dismiss that moniker on Saturday night.
Related: Irene Aldana vs Holly Holm Postponed
Born in Glendale, California, Shahbazyan is a lifelong Mixed Martial Artist. Never specifying one style to impose on his opponents, he’s from the generation of well-rounded pure MMA fighters. Born to Armenian parents, Shahbazyan has maintained the Armenian touch to his accent, and is always flying the flag proudly.
With only 11 fights on his record, there’s not much tape to go on to study the Armenian. Especially given his tendencies to finish the fight in the first. What we can do is look at how he’s finishing some of them, such as Brad Tavares.
Fight Style Breakdown
The Brad Tavares fight was a huge step up for Shahbazyan. After fighting some solid guys, he stepped up to fight his first UFC veteran, and dismantled him with relative ease. Showing the fight IQ of a seasoned Pro, he was patient as well as efficient. Waiting for Tavares to flinch and over-react to every little feint, Shahbazyan made his reads like a super-computer and had Tavares’ every movement telegraphed.
Shahbazyan sets up the 1-2 with a double jab just before it, whilst luring Tavares into trying to counter the jabs with the left hook. Shahbazyan didn’t throw the second jab that’s anticipated by Tavares. Instead, opting to throw a sharp straight right, landing flush on the completely unprotected chin.
After stunning Tavares with the 1-2, he swarms intelligently. With a flurry of hooks, uppercuts and a knee, pushing Tavares towards the fence. After predominantly throwing to set up from the left side and for power on the right, Shahbazyan mixes it up. He very delicately feints with the right to draw the hands down and sneaks his left leg over the shoulder. Clean on the chin.
As well as striking, Shahbazyan has spoken of his underrated ground game. With the likes of Ronda Rousey and Co. there, he’s got the highest level grapplers to learn from. With one submission to his name, he will be looking to add to that eventually.
Derek Brunson is a UFC veteran from Wilmington, North Carolina. With a scholarship in Wrestling, Brunson also has a more unusual Scholarship in Cheerleading. Whilst maybe not helpful in his MMA career, its definitely an interesting fact about the Vet.
Fighy Style Breakdown
Fighting out of southpaw, Brunson has a left hand made of stone. One of the most underrated power punchers in the UFC, Brunson’s style can best be likened to Heavy Metal. It’s non-stop, 100mph, and usually you have no idea what’s coming next. Due to this, his counter-striking ability is often forgotten about. Here you can see him clipping Machida with a brutal overhand left thrown as Machida circles out.
There’s also the takedowns from Brunson to watch for. Whilst not the best TDD artist in the division, he’s got some amicable chain wrestling. You can see him driving Larkin to the cage, switching from a double-leg to a single leg, eventually taking the single and ending in side control.
This is likely where Brunson will look to take the fight. If he can get Shahbazyan to the ground, he can nullify the threat of being clipped on the feet.
Edmen Shahbazyan vs Derek Brunson Prediction
I think the Shahbazyan hype-train keeps rolling. With consecutive first round stoppages, I can see another quick KO. Brunson is good, but reckless on the feet. Shahbazyan is good, and like a sniper on the feet. Almost tailor-made to stop a guy like Brunson. I call first round TKO by Shahbazyan.