The planned main event for Saturday's UFC Fight Night card was to see Irene Aldana square off with former women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm, but those plans were brought to a halt recently with the news that Aldana had tested positive for COVID-19. So on short notice, two middleweight contenders step into the spotlight as Derek Brunson takes on the up-and-coming star Edmen Shahbazyan.
The event marks the UFC's first card back in Las Vegas after four cards on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The card will be held in the UFC Apex facility with no fans in attendance as has been the case for all recent events during the global pandemic.
Shahbazyan (11-0) has emerged as an exciting contender on the rise since making his Octagon debut in November 2018. At 22, Shahbazyan has already established himself as a finishing machine, winning nine fights by knockout and one by submission, while only seeing the judges' scorecards a single time in his pro career. Only two of his fights have lasted longer than three minutes.
In Brunson (20-7), Shahbazyan will face a much more experienced opponent. Brunson has 16 fights in the Octagon alone, five more than the total career fights of Shahbazyan. Brunson's five UFC losses have come exclusively against elite names, three current or former UFC champions, one former UFC title challenger and a former Strikeforce champion. He will enter the fight with Shahbazyan on a two-fight winning streak, beating Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch, both by decision in 2019.
In the co-main event, Joanne Calderwood will take on Jennifer Maia in a women's flyweight bout. It's a bit of a surprise to Calderwood in this spot as she was slated to take on champion Valentina Shevchenko for the title in June, but Shevchenko suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. Instead of waiting for that opportunity, Calderwood is risking her spot at No. 1 to take a stay busy fight.
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Here's the fight card for UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan card, odds
Edmen Shahbazyan -310
Derek Brunson +250
Joanne Calderwood -155
Jennifer Maia +130
Vicente Luque -195
Randy Brown +165
|Lando Vannata -155||Bobby Green +130||Lightweight|
|Kevin Holland -220||Trevin Giles +180||Middleweight|
UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan viewing information
Date: Aug. 1 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas, Nevada
Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan: While Brunson is a proven gatekeeper-level fighter who has managed to beat all but the absolute best fighters he has faced, he is a fighter who is very susceptible to getting knocked out. Five of his seven losses have come by knockout, including two in 2018. If there's one thing Shahbazyan brings to the table, it's big knockout power. If Brunson can survive the first round, he may be able to take advantage of a younger fighter with less experience, dragging him into deep water. That said, Shahbazyan should be able to score big and early to get the finish and keep his roll going. Pick: Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO1.
Who will win Shahbazyan vs. Brunson, and how exactly will each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to see which fighters you need to be all over on Saturday, all from the expert who's up nearly $20,000 on MMA and has nailed 15 of his last 16 main event picks!