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|Fight Night Odds|
Our Pick: Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO (-335)
Our Pick: Joanne Calderwood via decision (-182)
Our Pick: Vicente Luque via TKO (-190)
Our Pick: Bobby Green via decision (+110)
Our Pick: Kevin Holland via submission (-225)
The UFC middleweight division has been in the spotlight over the past month as this event marks the third straight event in which two top-10 middleweights have been featured in the main or co-main event of the card. Not only have we seen the best of the best 185-pounders in action this past month, but the UFC also announced its next middleweight title bout – with champion Israel Adesanya set to defend his championship against Paulo Costa at UFC 253.
Originally, this card was set to be headlined by a women’s bantamweight bout between former champion Holly Holm and Irene Aldana. However, the fight was pulled from the card after Aldana tested positive for COVID-19. The fight has tentatively been rescheduled for October.
This event marks the UFC’s return to Las Vegas and the UFC Apex Center after spending the past several weeks on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island – otherwise known as Fight Island. The next month’s worth of events are expected to take place states-side before the organization returns overseas for another string of events in the UAE.
UFC Fight Night Information
|What||Brunson vs. Shahbazyan|
|Where||UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV|
|When||Saturday, August 1, 7 PM EST|
After suffering consecutive first-round TKO losses to the likes of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and the now-champion Israel Adesanya, Derek Brunson has regained his winning touch and re-established himself as a top-10 middleweight.
Following the loss to Adesanya, Brunson took on Elias Theodorou last May in Ottawa, Canada. Brunson defeated Theodorou by unanimous decision. He followed that performance with another unanimous decision victory, this time over Ian Heinisch last August. Following that win, Brunson announced that he had signed a new six-fight deal with the promotion.
Standing at 6 ft. 1 in. tall, Brunson has a reach of 77 inches. He has been fighting professionally since 2010 and currently trains with Sanford MMA as well as the Renzo Gracie Academy, with whom he holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under. He is a southpaw fighter and a former NCAA Division II wrestler who is currently ranked as the eighth-best middleweight in the UFC.
Edmen Shahbazyan has fought for the UFC four times since appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series. He debuted with a razor-thin split-decision victory over Darren Stewart and has made sure to not leave his fate in the hands of the judges since then. The undefeated fighter went on to win his next three fights all by the first-round stoppage; one by TKO, one by submission, and one by KO.
His most recent fight came against Brad Tavares last November at UFC 244. Shahbazyan knocked out Tavares half-way into the first round with a vicious head kick. The win propelled him into the division’s top-10.
Standing at 6 ft. 2 in. tall, he will have a one-inch height advantage over Brunson. However, he will be suffering from a three-inch disadvantage when it comes to reaching. Shahbazyan trains with the Glendale Fighting Club under the notorious coach Edmond Tarverdyan – the trainer who taught Ronda Rousey her legendary head movement. At just 22-years-old, Shahbazyan is already ranked as the ninth-best fighter in the middleweight division.
A member of the UFC roster since 2014, Joanne Calderwood has always seemed to be just outside of the title contender discussion. She strings together a few impressive wins but then seems to fall to those women within the top-three. After back-to-back losses to top contenders in Cynthia Calvillo and Jessica Andrade, Calderwood strung together two wins in a row, defeating Kalindra Faria and Ariane Lipski. The two-fight streak gave her the chance to fight Katlyn Chookagian to determine the next contender for Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight title. Calderwood would lose the fight against Chookagian at UFC 238 via unanimous decision.
“JoJo” last fought last September, taking on Andrea Lee at UFC 242. In a closely fought fight, Calderwood came out as the victor, eking out a split-decision victory.
Hailing from Scotland, Calderwood stands at 5 ft. 6 in. tall and has a reach of 66 inches. A former kickboxer with a professional record of 19-2, Calderwood has become known for her muay thai abilities in the cage. She trains at Syndicate MMA with trainer John Wood and she holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She has been fighting professionally in MMA since 2012 and is currently ranked as the third-best flyweight in the division.
Like her opponent, Jennifer Maia was riding a two-fight winning streak before coming up against Katlyn Chookagian. Maia had wins over Alexis Davis and Roxanne Modafferi before coming up against Chookagian at UFC 244 last November. Maia would lose the bout via unanimous decision. It was also her second fight in a row in which she missed weight.
The Brazilian fighter will stand two inches shorter than her opponent in this fight and will also be at a two-inch reach disadvantage. She is a former professional boxer as well as a former Invicta FC flyweight champion. She trains with the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil. The 31-year-old has been fighting since 2009 and is the number-six ranked flyweight in the UFC.
Vicente Luque is in the upper echelon of the UFC’s welterweight division; he only loses to the best of the best. After losing his high-pressure UFC debut in 2015, Luque went on to win four straight before succumbing to Leon Edwards, who is one of the best. He followed that loss by winning six fights in a row, including wins over Niko Price and Mike Perry. At UFC 244 last November, he fought Stephen Thompson (one of the best) and ultimately lost via unanimous decision. Luque last fought this past May at UFC 249 where he defeated Niko Price for the second time in his career – this time by TKO. Three of his last five fights were deemed Fight of the Night.
Born in New Jersey, Luque stands at 5 ft. 11 in. and has a reach of 75.5 inches. Known for his muay thai and luta livre, Luque currently trains with Cerrado MMA out of Brazil. Fighting professionally since 2009, “The Silent Assassin” holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as well as a purple belt in luta livre esportiva. He is number 12 in the UFC welterweight rankings, which is actually rather mind-blowing for a guy who has gone 11-3 in the promotion. He has finished all but one of his UFC wins.
Randy Brown has gone 3-2 over his last five fights, having won his last two fights in a row. His last loss came against Niko Price (whom Luque has beaten twice) in July 2018. He was knocked out in the second round. Since then, Brown has defeated Bryan Barberena via TKO last June and followed that with a submission win over Warlley Alves last November. The latter performance earned Brown performance of the night bonus.
Standing at 6 ft. 3 in. tall, Brown is one of the tallest fighters in the welterweight division. He will stand four inches taller than Vicente Luque. He will also have a 2.5-inch reach advantage over his opponent this Saturday night. Fighting since 2010, the 30-year-old Brown trains out of New York with the Budokan Martial Arts Academy. He holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is a former Ring of Combat welterweight champion. He is looking to crack into the top-15 of the division with a win over Luque.
There’s no other way to say it: Lando Vannata has had one of the messiest UFC careers in the promotions history. He’s never gone on a streak, whether it be losing or winning. He even has two draws in the promotion, with one of them coming against his opponent this Saturday night, Bobby Green. The two fought to a split-draw back in 2017. Since then, Vannata has gone 2-2-1. His most recent fight came earlier this year against Yancy Medeiros, whom he defeated via unanimous decision. Prior to that win, he had lost via unanimous decision to Marc Diakiese last September. Prior to that he had a win. Prior to that, he had a loss. Prior to that, he had a draw. You see the pattern – there is no pattern! But no one can ever say that he’s not exciting to watch. He did, in fact, have a streak in which he won four post-fight bonuses in a row.
With a reach of 71 inches, Vannata stands at 5 ft. 9 in. A former student of the Jackson Wink Academy, Vannata has recently moved his training to the BMF Ranch. He does still train under Greg Jackson and spend time at Jackson’s MMA Acoma as well. Fighting since 2012, Vannata holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is currently unranked in the lightweight division but is still just 28-years-old.
If there is a less admirable record than Lando Vannata in the UFC lightweight division, it’s Bobby Green’s. Green has gone 2-5-1 since 2014, a stretch that began with back-to-back losses to stars Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. However, it seems like Green has been taking things more seriously. Following close back-to-back decision losses, Brown most recently defeated Clay Guida via unanimous decision this past June. He also gained a lot of publicity following a post-fight interview in which he expressed his desire for racial equality along with his caucasian adoptive father. Needless to say, he warmed a lot of hearts.
The 33-year-old comes in with a one-inch height advantage and an equal reach to that of Vannata. He trains out of California with Icon Mixed Martial Arts and holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Fighting since 2008, Brown is a former King of the Cage lightweight champion.
Another member of the Dana White’s Contender Series alum, Kevin Holland has had a pretty successful UFC career since joining the promotion in 2018. After losing his debut, he racked up three straight wins, including a big win over Gerald Meerschaert. He would lose in late 2019 via submission to Brendan Allen but would bounce back by defeating Anthony Hernandez via first-round TKO this past May. The win took him just 39 seconds.
“Trail Blazer” is one of the division’s larger fighters. Standing at 6 ft. 3 in. tall, he has a reach of 81 inches. The 27-year-old trains out of Texas with Phalanx MMA and Travis Lutter BJJ – the latter of which he holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under. Holland also holds a second-degree black belt in kung fu. He has been fighting professionally since 2015 and also has a 2-1 professional kickboxing record. He is taking this fight on one-month notice.
Imagine being a full-time police officer and in the UFC as a part-time gig. That’s the life of Trevin Giles. Giles joined the UFC in 2017 and immediately won two straight. Unfortunately, he would lose his next two fights to Zak Cummings and the aforementioned Gerald Meerschaert. His last fight came earlier this year at UFC 247, where he took on James Krause. Giles would get back into the win column with a Fight of the Night, split-decision performance.
Giles is also 27-years-old and also fights out of Texas, but that seems to be where the similarities stop. Giles stands three-inches shorter than Holland and he also has a reach seven-inches shorter than his opponent this Saturday. Needless to say, that is significant. Fighting since 2014, Giles currently trains with Texas Elite MMA and holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He was originally slated to fight Jun Yong Park at this event but Park was ultimately removed from the card.
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Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of the sport of hockey and the NHL.
Email: [email protected]More info on Ryan Bristlon
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