UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Derek Brunson Hands Edmen Shahbazyan His First Career Loss

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Derek Brunson Hands Edmen Shahbazyan His First Career Loss

Rising prospect Edmen Shahbazyan suffered his first career loss at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas to the hands of Derek Brunson, a proven veteran viewed as a gatekeeper for young fighters.

As the No. 8-ranked middleweight, Derek Brunson is an incredibly dangerous fighter. But with 20-7 career record, he's viewed as a gatekeeper for up-and-coming prospects. Despite entering Saturday's main event match against undefeated 22-year-old phenom Edmen Shahbazyan with a higher ranking and more experience, Brunson was a decided -300 underdog.

Two rounds and some change later, Brunson had silenced his critiques. The 36-year-old veteran put on one of the best performances of his career in route to a TKO victory over the No. 9-ranked Shahbazyan.

Clearly aware of Shahbazyan's power, Brunson fought patiently in the opening round of the fight before scoring a takedown midway in. Shahbazyan quickly made his way to his feet and starting firing heavy shots at Brunson who perfectly weathered the storm and used a knee to set up a second takedown. Towards the end of the round, Shahbazyan landed a clean shot, serving as a wakeup call to the veteran.

Shahbazyan remained threatening in the second but Brunson did a good job minimizing the damage while mixing in his varied attacks. The fight really took a turn at the end of the second when Brunson managed another takedown. This time a tired Shahbazyan was kept grounded and Brunson rained downed heavy strikes and elbows. With the seconds ticking down, it appeared Brunson was going to finish Shahbazyan, but the youngster was saved by the bell right as it looked like referee Herb Dean was ready to call it.

While Shahbazyan was able to escape, the punishment he endured and his general posture afterward was enough cause for concern that Dean called in the doctor to take a look. The doctor allowed the fight to continue but it didn't last long. Already wary of Shahbazyan's condition, Dean quickly called a stop to the fight just 26 seconds into the third round before any more damage could be done by Brunson.

“All the people on social media, -300 underdog. So many people betting against me and having so much negative to say,” Brunson said after the fight. “But I have so much support and that meant way more than any negative [comments].”

With the victory, Brunson extended his winning streak to three and is now 21-7. For Shahbazyan, who was considered one of the UFC's top prospects, it was his first career loss. He now has a record of 11-1 but will hopefully learn from this loss and come back stronger. 

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