The UFC promotion is fresh off a successful stint at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, and have ventured back into the United States for their next event. The UFC will get right back in the octagon this evening and bring to the world another event LIVE from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. The main card will have a bell time of 9PM est on ESPN+.
The state of the original fight card for tonight is a mess. Actually, that might be an understatement. Nonetheless, the show must go on, and the matchmakers made their adjustments to present a good event. The original main event of Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana was scrapped because Aldana tested positive for COVID-19. The new main event features an exciting scrap between ranked Middleweights Derek Brunson and hot prospect Edmen Shahbazyan. The co-main event highlights the women’s flyweight division as title contender Joanne Calderwood takes on Jennifer Maia.
Let’s straighten out all of the mess that occurred on Friday with the fight card. There’s 3 fighters that were forced to withdraw from their fights. Timir Valiev and Ray borg withdrew for undisclosed reasons. Vincent Cacheros and Johnny Munoz will replace those fighters, respectively. Eric Spiceley experienced trouble with the weight cut, and withdrew from the fight. They tried to replace him with Charles Ontiveros, but the commission turned down Ontiveros. Therefore, the following changes were made:
- Vincent Cacheros vs. Jamal Emmers
- Johnny Munoz vs. Nate Maness
- Eric Spiceley fight was cancelled.
Now that we have everything covered, let’s breakdown the match-ups on the main card!
Main Card (9PM, ESPN)
Derek Brunson vs. “The Golden Boy” Edmen Shahbazyan
Odds: Shahbazyan (-527) Brunson (+300)
The main event features a battle between the 8th and 9th ranked middleweights as Derek Brunson (8) squares up against rising star Edmen Shahbazyan (9) in the octagon. The winner of this fight could set themselves up in a good spot within the middleweight title picture.
The rising star in the division is budding superstar Edmen Shahbazyan. “The Golden Boy” has been magnificent in the cage sporting an undefeated 11-0 record. What is even more remarkable is the way he’s doing it. Edmen is finishing his fights fast and furious! Every finish in the cage has ended in round one. You think that’s impressive? Well, five of his wins have ended in under one minute! Now, that’s impressive!
“This Kid is special. He is one in a generation.”
– Ronda Rousey (on Edmen Shahbazyan)
Where does he get the mentality as a fighter? Why, I believe it comes from his manager, Ronda Rousey. Edmen trains at Glendale fighting club, which is where Rousey trained as a professional. Shahbazyan even served as a sparring partner for Rousey when he was 15 years old while she hosted an open workout prior to the Liz Carmouche fight. The former Dana white contender series participant is ready to announce his presence as one of the top contenders in the middleweight division.
Derek Brunson is 14 years the elder to Edmen Shahbazyan. The UFC veteran is riding a 2 fight win streak after defeating Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision. Brunson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights with losses to champ Israel Adesanya, and Ronaldo Souza. The seasoned veteran has 10 wins via Knockout, 6 of which came in the UFC. While Brunson has lost via knockout on 5 occasions, he’s never been submitted. I’m looking forward to a stand up battle in the main event with one of these fighters seeing stars inside 25 minutes.
Prediction: Shahbazyan via KO, 1st Round
Women’s Flyweight Bout
Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood vs. Jennifer Maia
Odds: Calderwood (-182) Maia (+145)
The co-main event features the women as Joanne Calderwood (3) takes on Jennifer Maia (6) in a flyweight bout. Joanne is taking a huge risk in taking this bout, especially on short notice. Calderwood was scheduled to face off for the women’s flyweight title against Valentina Shevchecko, but Valentina had to pull out due to injury. She’s taking a big gamble accepting this fight, but greatly respect the heart of a fighter such as Calderwood.
Jennifer Maia enters the cage with a 2-2 record in the UFC. All of her fights in the promotion have ended via decision. She’s made a career of going the distance as she’s won 9 fights via the judge’s scorecards. Maia is hoping to get back in the win column after suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Kaitlyn Chookagian last time in the cage. The good thing for Maia is that she managed to avoid the weigh in issues she’s faced in the past. Maia should be ready to put up a fight against a top contender in the women’s flyweight division.
Joanne Calderwood was on the brink of a title shot, but that’s been put on the back burner, at least for a day. “JoJo” steps in the cage the 6th ranked fighter in the division. The scottish fighter has won 3 of her last 4 fights. The only blemish on her recent bouts is a loss to Kaitlyn Chookagain. As with Jennifer Maia, Calderwood has 9 wins via judge’s decision to go along with 5 knockouts. Calderwood is 1st in the division in significant strikes landed, averaging 6.67 per minute. Can “Jojo” keep up her winning ways, and catapult into a title opportunity, or will Jennifer Maia play spoiler ruining the Scottish fighter’s plans?
Prediction: Calderwood via Unanimous decision
“The Silent Assassin” Vicente Luque vs. “Rudeboy” Randy Brown
Odds: Luque (-200) Brown (+160)
Vicente Luque loves to let his hands fly! He can unleash some powerful shots. “The Silent Assassin” is ready for a battle with Randy Brown on Saturday night. Luque will have the up close and personal support of his teammate, Gilbert Burns. Burns is cleared from COVID, and is available to be a cornerman for Luque tonight. Luque is on fire winning 8 of his last 10 fights. He displays a balanced winning formula with 10 knockouts and 7 submission victories. Luque had good things to say about his opponent this evening, and expects a war.
“He may not be ranked, but he’s dangerous.”
Randy Brown enters the cage as a winner in 3 of his last 4 fights. The Jamaican is feeling confident after a submission win over Warlley Alves last time in the cage. “Rudeboy” is pretty balanced as well winning 6 fights via knocknout, and 4 victories by way of submission. Brown looks to prove everyone wrong and beat the 11th ranked Vicente Luque.
Prediction: Luque via KO, 2nd Round
“Groovy” Lando Vannata vs. “King” Bobby Green
Odds: Vannata (-160) Green (+128)
This fight will be the second installment in their rivalry as Lando Vannata and Bobby Green are set to do battle. These fighters fought back in 2017, but fought to a split decision draw. Obviously, both fighters feel as though they won the fight. The guys are back to throw down in the octagon to settle the score and prove who’s better.
Both fighters are coming off unanimous decision victories last time in the cage. Lando Vannata defeated Yancy Medeiros to improve his record to 11-4-2. “Groovy” has won 2 of 3 fights with the only blemish to Marc Diakiese. Bobby Green took Clay Guida the distance for a win on the judge’s scorecards. He improved to 25-10-1 in the octagon. Green is 2-2 in his last 4 fights. Green stays balanced in the way he wins as 8 wins came via knockout and 9 victories by submission. These guys won’t be shy toward one another, and are ready to give everyone the fight of the night.
Prediction: Vannata via unanimous decision
Light Heavyweight Bout
“Short Fuse” Ed Herman vs. “GM3” Gerald Meerschaert
Odds: Meerschaert (-170) Herman (+135)
Just when I get all excited about Ed Herman moving up to the main card, Ariel Helwani drops a bomb. See below.
Rumors are circulating that Gerald Meerschaert tested positive for COVID-19. I’m really starting to hate this Rona crap!
“Trailblazer” Kevin Holland vs. Trevin “The Problem” Giles
Odds: Holland (-371) Giles (+230)
The main card opener features a pair of middleweight competitors. Kevin Holland is making a quick turnaround back to the cage after making easy work out of Anthony Fernandez at UFC Fight night in May. Holland has won 4 of his last 5 fights in the octagon. The “trailblazer” will use his 7 inch reach advantage to keep his distance from Giles and pick his spots to victory.
Trevin Giles will face a fellow Texan on Saturday night in Kevin Holland. Although they haven’t crossed paths, they do know about each other. Giles is 3-2 in the UFC after defeating James Krause via split decision in February. Giles has finished 10 of his 12 victories, with 5 knockouts and 5 submissions. Who’s going to rule Texas after this battle?
Prediction: Kevin Holland via Unanimous decision
Enjoy the fights!