Experience versus Youth
After a whirlwind July in Abu Dhabi, UFC returns to Las Vegas this weekend as Derek Brunson faces Edmen Shahbazyan in the main event. Brunson is a tough veteran who has fought some of the biggest names in the game including Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya. He approaches the weekend looking for a hat-trick of wins having overcome Elias Theodorou and rising star, Ian Heinisch, in his last two fights. Previously known for his aggressive style, Brunson’s style has matured and he has transcended into a dangerously calculating opponent.
Shahbazyan is one of UFC’s hottest prospects and at 22-years of age has plenty of time to make his mark. The Californian sits 11-0 in his MMA career boasting three victories in the UFC since his debut against Charles Byrd last year. Known for his electric starts, Shahbazyan can be expected to come out fast to get on the front-foot against his more experienced opponent.
With a 14-year age gap between the two will experience or youth pay-off in this tantalising encounter?
In the co-main event, the no.3 ranked JoJo Calderwood goes head-head with no.6 ranked Jennifer Maia. The Scotswoman was due to face Valentina Shevchenko earlier this summer for the flyweight title, but the bout was not able to go ahead and she will now have look to prove her title credentials once again. JoJo is a fierce competitor and comes into the bout off a hard-fought win against Andrea Lee last September. She is eyeing up her seventh win in the UFC and, more importantly, the chance to fight for the belt.
The Brazilian Maia is 2-2 in the division and will be eager to improve on that record having lost her most recent bout to Katlyn Chookagian. She is looking to avoid back-back losses for the first time in her career and will be relying on her boxing background to produce the goods.To date all her UFC fights have gone the length so expect this bout to be similarly tactical.
The highlight of the prelims may well come in the form of Jamall Emmersversus Timur Valiev. Despite losing on debut to Giga Chikadze, Emmers put in a very strong performance before falling short in a closely contest split decision. With one loss on his record he will be determined to get back to even this weekend.
Russia’s Valiev is a UFC debutant who enters the promotion with a lot of hype around him. Dominating in bouts and making a name for himself on the MMA scene prior to signing with UFC. He has recently moved from bantamweight to featherweight and will be confident of defeating his American opponent. Valiev is expected to be the more agile fighter and will look to capitalise on his superior grounds skills to take his victory.