UFC on ESPN+ 31 card this weekend featured a pivotal middleweight bout as veteran Derek Brunson took on undefeated prospect Edmen ‘Golden Boy’ Shahbazyan.
This was his first fight against a trial and tested veteran. Many people thought Brunson was a stepping stone for Shahbazyan to move up the rankings. The veteran however had other plans. Stepping as an underdog, Brunson put up probably the best performance of his life defeating Shahbazyan via third round TKO.
Brunson started slow in the first round however started integrating his striking along with his wrestling in the second round before finishing him in third. There came a moment in the final seconds of the second round where Brunson was pounding Shahbazyan with elbows. For a moment, Shahbazyan looked completely out before the bell rang.
Though he made it to his corner, his body language looked off which ultimately led him to being finished. The MMA community were debating whether it was the right call of his corner to allow him continue the fight. Speaking in an interview, Brunson weighed in on the issue.
“Yea it’s funny man. I am hearing like the media lately just saying ‘Oh they should have just stopped the fight’. But, there would no such thing as a comeback if they just stop every fight.” he explained. “You know if guys want to go back… you know he looked a little defeated in the corner for sure. He hasn’t been pushed or tested but take nothing away from the kid. I mean he looked great in his other fights. He just had a guy who had a lot of fights. And you know I’ve had enough of putting on bad fights and just stinkers. So I was really locked in for this fight.”
Brunson right back in title contention!
Shahbazyan with an undefeated record at the tender age of 22, was considered the next big thing. Many people had him in contention for breaking Jon Jones’ record of becoming the youngest UFC champion.
Brunson however completely derailed him as off now to stamp his authority in the super stacked middleweight division. Though he didn’t specifically call somebody out, the middleweight division has many interesting options like Darren Till, Jack Hermansson, Kelvin Gastelum and Yoel Romero.