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UFC on ESPN+ 31 results: Derek Brunson shines, hands Edmen Shahbazyan first loss

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Edmen Shahbazyan is a young prospect with a bright future. But on Saturday night, he learned a lesson at the hands of one of the middleweight division’s toughest veterans.

Derek Brunson went toe to toe with Shahbazyan (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in the opening round of their UFC on ESPN+ 31 main event, pulled away in the second, and finished things early in the third round at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The time of the TKO stoppage was 26 seconds of the third as Brunson (21-6 MMA, 12-4 UFC) won his third consecutive fight, all of which have come since he moved his base of operations to Sanford MMA in Florida.

“All the people on social media, minus-300 underdog, so many people against me,” Brunson said in his post-fight interview. “(Coach) Henri Hooft believes in me, ‘You’re not a gatekeeper, show him you want the title.'”

In the early going, the 22-year-old Shahbazyan showed why he’s such a highly regarded prospect, mixing punches that were delivered with authority and kicks thrown from all over.

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While the Glendale Fight Club competitor likely won the opening round, Brunson still had his moments, particularly in the grappling department, which portended what was to come.

Things picked up in the second after a timeout due to an inadvertent Brunson eye poke. He picked up the pace, pushed forward, took his opponent to the mat, and began to administer devastating ground-and-pound. Brunson very nearly finished the fight with nasty elbows as Shahbazyan was saved by the bell.

Referee Herb Dean called the cagside doctor in to check Shahbazyan before the start of the third round. He was cleared, but Brunson wasted little time finishing the job.

The victory marked Brunson’s third career stoppage, which Shahbazyan dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten in what was just his second career fight to go outside the first round.

Complete UFC on ESPN+ 31 results:

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