Brunson ends Shahbazyan hype with TKO win at UFC Fight Night

UFC middleweight Derek Brunson throws a punch. (Justin Tang/CP)

Derek Brunson handed highly-touted rising star Edmen Shahbazyan his first loss Saturday at the UFC APEX in the main event of the organization’s first event back in Las Vegas after holding four events on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in July.

After a close, competitive opening round, the 36-year-old Brunson began using his wrestling and veteran savvy to impose his will on his 22-year-old opponent.

Brunson rocked Shahbazyan with heavy ground-and-pound late in the second round that proved to be the beginning of the end.

Referee Herb Dean took a hard look at Shahbazyan in between rounds and as soon as Brunson began teeing off early in the final stanza the fight was called off.

Brunson has now won three fights in a row since he began training with Henry Hooft at Sanford MMA. This was Brunson’s first stoppage win since he knocked out former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in 2017.

Brunson was the No. 8 contender in the middleweight division heading into the event so he’ll maintain that position or possibly move up a spot or two. Potential next opponents for Brunson could be Kelvin Gastelum, Darren Till or Jack Hermansson.

Jennifer Maia submitted Joanne Calderwood with a first-round armbar in the night’s co-main event to likely earn a flyweight title shot. Maia was ranked sixth in the division and Calderwood was ranked third. The former Invicta FC flyweight champ has won three of her past four in the UFC and her win caught the eye of reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Vicente Luque proved again that he’s one of the most dangerous finishers in the welterweight division with a second-round knockout of Randy Brown.

A middleweight bout between Trevin Giles and Kevin Holland was expected kick off the main card, however Giles fainted backstage mere minutes before his scheduled walk-out and the fight was subsequently cancelled.

Here are the complete results from the event.

— Derek Brunson def. Edmen Shahbazyan by TKO
— Jennifer Maia def. Joanne Calderwood by submission (armbar)
— Vicente Luque def. Randy Brown by knockout
— Bobby Green def. Lando Vannata by unanimous decision

— Jonathan Martinez def. Frankie Saenz by TKO
— Nathan Maness def. Johnny Munoz by unanimous decision
— Jamall Emmers def. Vincent Cachero by unanimous decision
— Chris Gutierrez vs. Cody Durden ended in unanimous draw

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