August is off to a rough start for the UFC, as the main event of the August 1st card at the Las Vegas APEX Centre has been cancelled.
Holly Holm was scheduled to fight Irene Aldana in the women’s bantamweight division, with the winner moving into title contention against Amanda Nunes in the future. However Holm’s management have confirmed that Aldana has had to withdraw from the fight and despite attempts to find a new bout for the event, the fight has just been postponed instead.
Dana White took to his Instagram account to announce the news and alongside hall of famer Ronda Rousey, announced that her client Edmen Shahbazyan’s fight with Derek Brunson will now take over as the main event for that card.
With a perfect 11-0 record (4-0 in the UFC), Shahbazyan has made a name for himself in the middleweight division with his exciting striking arsenal. He has three stoppage wins in a row, including a stunning head-kick knockout of Brad Tavares in his last bout.
Brunson has been in and around the division’s Top 10 ranking for a number of years now and has taken on all the top middleweights of his time including Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero and Lyoto Machida.
While he’s never really been in title contention due to his up-and-down record, Brunson is now almost booked as a gatekeeper. It was Adesanya’s win over Brunson that set up his title eliminator with Anderson Silva, while his last two wins have come against guys that were on big win streaks in Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch.
The promotion to the main card certainly says more about the UFC’s thoughts on Shahbazyan and the fact he is managed by Ronda Rousey will do him no harm in the eyes of the wider MMA media. He is certainly a prospect and the idea of him eventually getting to fight Israel Adesanya for the 185lbs title is mouth-watering, but it’s far from being realistic any time soon.
Derek Brunson is a horrible match-up for him if he sticks to his strengths. An incredibly strong wrestler, he will look to get this fight to the ground ASAP and not allow Shahbazyan to use his striking skills. With that said, many said the same thing about Brunson when he fought Adesanya – and ‘The Last Stylebender’ knocked him out in the first round.
Either way, it’s a sign that the UFC believe they have a star in their ranks and they are now giving him the platform to sink or swim. Derek Brunson is the shark in deep waters just waiting to be fed.