Cancellations, collapses, and low blows marred Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, but that didn’t diminish Derek Brunson’s victory over the previously undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan in the main event.
Brunson scored a third-round TKO to turn back Shahbazyan who came into the fight as a -310 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Underdog Status Motivates Brunson
Shahbazyan (11-1) started strong, trading with Brunson and knocking his opponent back with the strength of his punches and kicks. But the 22-year-old began tiring in the second round. Brunson landed a takedown late, and nearly put the fight away, hitting an elbow that left Shahbazyan bloody as the bell rang to end the round.
Referee Herb Dean asked the ringside doctor to look at Shahbazyan before the third round began. While the doctor allowed the bout to continue, Brunson quickly pounced on Shahbazyan and began landing strikes on the ground. Dean stopped the fight just 26 seconds into the final frame.
After the fight, Brunson (21-7) said that his underdog status motivated him heading into the fight.
“So many people were betting against me and had negative things to say. [But] I had so much support, way more than the negative,” Brunson said after the fight. “Ever since I’ve gone down there, [coach Henri Hooft] has believed in me. He’s always said, ‘You’re not a gatekeeper. Show these guys you’ve got it. You want a title? Let’s go.’”
Fight Night Reduced to Eight Bouts
While the main event thrilled audiences, it came at the end of a show that was marred by bizarre circumstances. The UFC canceled several fights in the days leading up to Saturday’s matches in Las Vegas, with a failed weight cut and a positive COVID-19 test scrapping two bouts in the final 48 hours before the show.
The UFC abruptly canceled another bout when Trevin Giles collapsed during the walkouts for his main card fight against Kevin Holland. Joanne Calderwood later fainted backstage after her first-round submission loss to Jennifer Maia.
In the end, only eight bouts took place on the card. According to MMA Fighting, broadcasters also noted an incredible 10 stoppages for low blows during the eight bouts.
UFC 254 Fights: Volkov vs. Harris Confirmed, Whittaker vs. Cannonier Likely
We already know that Khabib Nurmagomedov will fight Justin Gaethje to unify the UFC lightweight title in the headliner for UFC 254. Now, the UFC is adding more fights to the Oct. 24 card.
Heavyweights Alexander Volkov (31-8) and Walt Harris (13-8) will face off in a heavyweight bout at UFC 254, according to an ESPN report. Volkov holds the No. 8 ranking in the division, but has lost two of his last three bouts. The 10th-ranked Harris last fought in May when Alistair Overeem defeated him via second-round TKO.
Additionally, UFC president Dana White told ESPN that the company is finalizing a middleweight bout between former champion Robert Whittaker (21-5) and Jared Cannonier (13-4) for UFC 254. The promotion originally scheduled the two to fight in March, but Whittaker pulled out for personal reasons. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Cannonier (-120) as a slight favorite over Whittaker (+102).