Rising UFC middleweight contender Edmen Shahbazyan will take on veteran Derek Brunson at UFC 248 in the latest addition to the star-studded pay-per-view card.
UFC 248 takes place on March 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event sees UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya take on Yoel Romero, while the co-main event sees UFC women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang fight rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The Las Vegas Review-Journal first broke the news of the Shahbazyan vs. Brunson matchup.
Shahbazyan (11-0) is arguably the top prospect in the UFC middleweight division. Just 22 years old, Shahbazyan is already a perfect 4-0 in the Octagon with wins over Brad Tavares, Jack Marshman, Charles Byrd, and Darren Stewart. His last win over Tavares was his most impressive to date as he knocked out the veteran with a head kick on the UFC 244 undercard. Out of Shahbazyan’s 11 career wins, 10 have come via stoppage. The young Armenian-American is managed by UFC legend Ronda Rousey.
Brunson (20-7) is 11-5 overall in the UFC and one of the top-10 ranked middleweights on the roster. The 36-year-old American is coming off of back-to-back decision wins over Ian Heinisch and Elias Theodorou. Out of his 11 wins inside the Octagon, seven of them have come by stoppage. He has proven himself to be one of the top gatekeepers at 185lbs, though he has failed in his bid to become a championship-level fighter as he’s lost most of his fights against elite competition.
Shahbazyan vs. Brunson is an excellent middleweight matchup pitting a prospect against a gatekeeper. Should Shahbazyan win this fight, he could very well be in line for a top-five opponent, and could potentially be fighting for the middleweight belt before the year is up. As for Brunson, a win over Shahbazyan could get him another chance to fight a top-five ranked fighter himself.
Who do you think wins this middleweight fight between Edmen Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/22/2020.