Edmen Shahbazyan knows that he has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him Saturday night.
Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson have taken over as the main event for UFC Fight Night 173  as the promotion returns to Las Vegas and the UFC Apex. Holly Holm and Irene Aldana were scrapped when Aldana tested positive for the coronavirus.
The two have been scheduled since March when they were to compete at UFC 248 . The fight was re-booked for UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Harris a month later before being canceled once again due to the COVID-19 virus.
A 22-year-old middleweight, Shahbazyan is nicknamed “The Golden Boy.” He is currently ranked inside the Top-10.
Competing out of the Glendale Fighting Club, the Armenian-American Shahbazyan trained with Ronda Rousey growing up. The former UFC champion announced his fight with Brunson.
In 2018, Shahbazyan competed on Dana White’s Contender Series, earning a 40-second knockout of Antonio Jones. He was signed by the UFC and earned a split decision later that year over Darren Stewart.
Last year, Shahbazyan finished Charles Byrd in 38 seconds, Jack Marshman in 72 seconds and landed a head-kick knockout on Brad Tavares midway through the first round.
All of that has positioned him as a rising prospect and future title contender. And he can take a huge step forward in the stacked division with a win over Brunson.
Brunson has faced some of the top guys in the weight class. He is coming off back-to-back decisions over Ian Heinisch and Elias Theodorou after consecutive defeats to current UFC champion Israel Adesanya and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
In 2017, Brunson knocked out former UFC champion Lyoto Machida and finished Dan Kelly in the first round. He also went the distance with the legendary Anderson Silva and lost to former champion Robert Whittaker.
With the eyes of the MMA world fixed on him Saturday night, this will be a huge test and opportunity for Shahbazyan.