Final Combating Championship (UFC) is again in motion this weekend with the UFC Vegas 5 combined martial arts (MMA) occasion, scheduled for Sat., Aug. 1, 2020 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, and headlined by the middleweight showdown between Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan. Elsewhere on the cardboard, which airs completely on ESPN+, flyweight contenders Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia collide for a spot within the 125-pound title race.

Unique headliners, Holly Holm and Irene Aldana, have been rebooked for a later date.

Earlier than we dive into the principle and co-main occasions, you’ll want to try the whole UFC Vegas 5 preliminary card breakdown, expertly deconstructed by the jet-setting Patrick Stumberg right here and right here. Fighter-turned-writer-turned-fighter once more, Andrew Richardson, did many of the heavy lifting for the remainder of the principle card proper right here. For the newest “Brunson vs. Shahbazyan” odds and betting traces click on right here.

Let’s get to work …

185 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan

Derek Brunson

Document: 20-7 | Age: 36 | Betting line: +270
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, Three SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 5 KO/TKO, Zero SUB, 2 DEC
Peak: 6’1“ | Attain: 77” | Stance: Southpaw
Vital Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.39 (45.94% accuracy)
Takedown Common: 2.80 (29.27% accuracy)
Present Rating: No. 8 | Final battle: Resolution win over Ian Heinisch

Edmen Shahbazyan

Document: 11-0 | Age: 22 | Betting line: -330
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: Zero KO/TKO, Zero SUB, Zero DEC
Peak: 6’2“ | Attain: 74” | Stance: Orthodox
Vital Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.11 (52.90% accuracy)
Takedown Common: 6.77 (40.91% accuracy)
Present Rating: No. 9 | Final battle: Knockout win over Brad Tavares

I feel numerous us rolled our eyes when Edmen Shahbazyan was given a spot on Dana White’s “Contender Sequence” again in summer season 2017 just because the Californian — then simply 20 years outdated — was combating out of Glendale Combating Membership and managed by former UFC ladies’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Then Shahbazyan virtually killed Antonio Jones in lower than a minute and made the information of his signing extra about his deserves as a cage fighter and fewer about the place he got here from (and who he knew). His Octagon debut would flip in his hardest check up to now in opposition to the venerable Darren Stewart however within the months that adopted, it’s been nothing however first-round finishes, together with final November’s destruction of Brad Tavares. Beating a ranked contender like Tavares is what separates Shahbazyan from different “Contender Sequence” imports like “Sugar” Sean O’Malley and one of many many causes followers (and fellow fighters) must take him severely when he begins speaking about future title photographs. Not that smoking Brunson would permit him to chop the road, however it could be a helluva good begin.

Brunson, sadly, will not be taken very severely within the middleweight division and I feel that’s a receipt for shedding on the grand stage. Earlier than we go any additional, let’s simply go forward and admit he gained that Anderson Silva battle at UFC 208. Outdoors of that, he was torched by Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker — the present and former middleweight champion — in addition to Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero, two world-class fighters persistently ranked within the High 5. In case you’re going to get creamed, no less than get creamed by the perfect. Placing that apart, Brunson has continued to deal with his enterprise, typically occasions in spectacular trend. Not only a wrestler, the Strikeforce import laid waste to the likes of Sam Alvey, Uriah Corridor, and Lyoto Machida, amongst others. To recommend Brunson can’t replicate that type of end in opposition to Shahbazyan is to additionally recommend the Armenian-American is performing above these aforementioned abilities. I’m not able to say he hits tougher than Alvey, is quicker than Corridor, or works the angles higher than Machida. On the similar time, he could not should.

I’ve to think about {that a} fighter as seasoned as Brunson truly develops a gameplan earlier than strolling into the Octagon, although I typically marvel what nook it hides in when the shit hits the proverbial fan. A fighter as sturdy and highly effective as Brunson — a three-time Division II All-American wrestler — may very simply grind his option to victory, notably in opposition to an opponent like Shahbazyan, who’s solely left the primary spherical as soon as in his total profession. As an alternative, we’re most likely going to get the identical model of Brunson we noticed in opposition to Adesanya, a dumbed-down slugger hellbent on derailing the hype prepare of an up-and-coming prospect. It didn’t pan out in opposition to “The Final Stylebender” and it gained’t serve him properly in opposition to Shahbazyan, both. If Brunson was 26 as an alternative of 36 we could be having a unique dialog however he isn’t so we aren’t. Anticipate a wild first spherical with punches entering into each path till any person melts. I predict it is going to be Brunson.

Prediction: Shahbazyan def. Brunson by knockout

125 lbs.: Joanne Calderwood vs. Jennifer Maia

Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood

Document: 14-4 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -145
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, Eight DEC | Losses: Zero KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 2 DEC
Peak: 5’6“ | Attain: 65.5” | Stance: Orthodox
Vital Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.19 (47.86% accuracy)
Takedown Common: 1.85 (56% accuracy)
Present Rating: No. 3 | Final battle: Resolution win over Andrea Lee

Jennifer Maia

Document: 17-6-1 | Age: 31 | Betting line: +125
Wins: Four KO/TKO, Four SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, Four DEC
Peak: 5’4“ | Attain: 64” | Stance: Orthodox
Vital Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.05 (38.15% accuracy)
Takedown Common: 0.25 (50% accuracy)
Present Rating: No. 6 | Final battle: Resolution loss to Katlyn Chookagian

Flyweight veteran Joanne Calderwood joins the lengthy listing of UFC fighters who misplaced their probability to compete for the division title because of a championship harm, but it surely stays to be seen if she joins a unique listing of fighters who went on to remorse it (assume Edgar-Ortega). What worries me heading into this battle is the truth that Calderwood took over for the ailing Viviane Araujo on such brief discover. Her authentic bout in opposition to Valentina Shevchenko was known as off properly over a month in the past, so it’s unlikely the Scot was nonetheless coaching at full pace. We’re additionally in a kind of bizarre sports activities the place we now have to keep away from elevating a fighter as a result of we like them. Calderwood is likely one of the extra interesting athletes on the UFC roster and presents properly, so the urge is to hold that over to her performances contained in the cage. With that in thoughts, I’m not breaking out the social gathering hats for a split-decision victory over Andrea Lee, which adopted a choice loss to Katlyn Chookagian.

It hasn’t been a gentle stream of wine and roses for Jennifer Maia, both, because of a few losses to Liz Carmouche and the aforementioned Chookagian. I additionally don’t need to go loopy for her solely two wins contained in the Octagon, as a result of Alexis Davis and Roxanne Modafferi are each of their late 30s and have mixed for 27 losses. As well as, Maia’s latest surge below the Invicta FC banner — which included a flyweight title — helped overshadow a few of her earlier losses for Shannon Knapp and Co., like Deanne Bennett and Leslie Smith. I’m not attempting to make this some type of anti-Maia marketing campaign as a result of the Brazilian is highly effective and sports activities a formidable battle IQ. She additionally has eight finishes in her profession, greater than 4 of the 5 flyweights at the moment ranked above of her. I suppose the counter to that statistic can be the truth that Maia hasn’t stopped anybody in 5 years throughout a span of eight fights, so both she’s misplaced her killer intuition or the competitors has caught as much as her.

I by no means favored these predictions columns that finish with “properly this battle may actually go both approach” however generally it’s exhausting to choose a transparent winner. Calderwood may simply steal this one on factors with footwork and quantity. On the similar time, Maia is hard to interrupt and even more durable to deal with within the clinch, so I may simply as simply see “JoJo” getting squashed in opposition to the cage for 15 minutes. There’s all the time that worry that Calderwood will fail to get out of first gear, a behavior that has plagued her prior to now, although I might think about she additionally is aware of what’s at stake on this battle. Chalk that as much as her maturity as a fighter. In any case, profitable ugly continues to be profitable and I anticipate a few perfectly-timed takedowns to seal the deal for Calderwood, who’s within the prime of her profession and prone to be firing on all cylinders.

Prediction: Calderwood def. Maia by unanimous resolution

Bear in mind, the remainder of the UFC Vegas 5 major card predictions are RIGHT HERE. will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the complete UFC Vegas 5 battle card RIGHT HERE, beginning with the ESPN+ “Prelims” scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET, adopted by the principle card portion that additionally streams on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET.

To take a look at the newest and best UFC Vegas 5: “Brunson vs Shahbazyan” information and notes you’ll want to hit up our complete occasion archive proper right here.