Las Vegas, July 24: UFC returns to Las Vegas with a series of action-packed cards every Saturday night in August, kicking off with a clash of top middleweight contenders as No. 8 Derek Brunson looks to hand No. 9 Edmen Shahbazyan his first professional loss.
After the completion of the historic Fight Island events, the Octagon returns to the US from Abu Dhabi with five action-packed cards starting with UFC Fight Night on ESPN+: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan on Saturday, Ausgust 1.
A staple of the middleweight top 10, Brunson (20-7, fighting out of Wilmington, N.C.) returns to action intending to once again stop the ascent of another fast-rising prospect.
Despite his All-American wrestling background, Brunson has developed into one of the most explosive strikers in the division with knockout wins over Lyoto Machida, Uriah Hall and Sam Alvey. He now looks to extend his current win streak and work his way back towards the top five by becoming the first person to defeat Shahbazyan.
One of the youngest athletes on the entire UFC roster, Shahbazyan, 22 (11-0, fighting out of Glendale, Calif.) has quickly developed into the middleweight division's top prospect.
Hailing from the same gym as former UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Shahbazyan has shown incredible skills during his young MMA career by finishing all but one of his victories in the first round, including wins over Brad Tavares, Jack Marshman and Charles Byrd. He now takes a step up in competition and looks to prove that the hype around him is deserved with his most critical victory yet.
Additional bouts on the card include:
• A critical bout in the women's flyweight division sees No. 3 ranked contender Joanne Calderwood (14-4, fighting out of Glasgow, Scotland) step up on short notice to take on No. 6 ranked Jennifer Maia (17-6-1, fighting out of Curitiba, State of Paraná, Brazil)
• In an exciting welterweight bout, No. 12 ranked contender Vicente Luque (19-7-1, fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) looks to defend his spot in the rankings against rising prospect Randy Brown (12-3, fighting out of Queens, N.Y.)
• In an thrilling lightweight rematch, Lando Vannata (11-4-2, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) and Bobby Green (25-10-1, fighting out of Fontana, Calif.) look to replicate their first Fight of the Night performance
• Light heavyweight veterans meet when veteran Ed Herman (26-14 1 NC, fighting out of Portland, Ore.) meets Gerald Meerschaert (30-13, fighting out of Milaukee, Wisc.) on short notice
• Kevin Holland (18-5, fighting out of Fort Worth, Texas) and Trevin Giles (12-2, fighting out of Houston, Texas) look to build their win streaks in a clash at middleweight
• Veteran bantamweight Frankie Saenz (13-6, fighting out of Scottsdale, Ariz.) aims to make a statement against Jonathan Martinez (11-3, fighting out of Plainview, Texas)
• Perennial top contender Ray Borg (13-5, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) looks to spoil the debut of UFC newcomer Nate Maness (11-1, fighting out of Henderson, Ky.)
• Middleweights Eric Spicely (12-6, fighting out of Olneyville, R.I.) and Markus Perez (11-3, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) battle to return to the win column
• In a battle of featherweight prospects looking to earn their first UFC win, Jamall Emmers (13-5, fighting out of Mentone, Calif.) welcomes the debuting Timur Valiev (16-2, fighting out of Moscow, Russia)
The remaining Apex cards will be announced at a later date. All events will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance pursuant to a Health, Safety and Operations plan approved by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
UFC Fight Night on ESPN+: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan will take place Saturday, August 1 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas with all fights carried exclusively on ESPN+ in English and Spanish. The main card begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, with the prelims kicking off at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT.
Source: Press Release