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Edmen Shahbazyan Intent On Showing His Evolution

After Suffering His First Professional Loss, Edmen Shahbazyan Went To Work And Hopes To Show It At UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt.

When Edmen Shahbazyan returned to his hotel room after suffering his first professional loss, the 23-year-old didn’t have any questions about what went wrong against Derek Brunson.

“I was looking for one big shot,” Shahbazyan told UFC.com. “It wasn’t happening, so it was like, ‘Come on. Come on. Come on.’ That eventually made me get an adrenaline dump, and the rest was history.”

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The second-round TKO loss halted Shahbazyan’s fast ascension up the middleweight rankings, and it’s hard to blame him for seeking a quick finish. All but one of his 11 pro wins came in the first round, and heading into his fight with Brunson, Shahbazyan was coming off a breakout performance – a first-round head kick knockout of Brad Tavares in Madison Square Garden at UFC 244.

Edmen Shahbazyan: 'I'm A Finisher' | UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt
Edmen Shahbazyan: 'I'm A Finisher' | UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt
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Edmen Shahbazyan always looks for the finish, but he hopes to exercise some patience after suffering his first professional loss.


So, with all that momentum heading into his first main event, it’s easy to see how “The Golden Boy” got a little ahead of himself against the veteran Brunson. Even so, that first professional loss is at times a hard pill to swallow for young fighters, especially when they’re running through opponents with relative ease. To Shahbazyan’s credit, though, he compartmentalized the speed bump along his path relatively quickly.

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“You have to take that loss and honestly just work off of it,” he said. “You can’t dwell too much on that loss. You just have to make improvements off of it, see what happens in that fight and just keep improving and using that as a learning lesson.”

Shahbazyan hoped to implement those lessons in front of a capacity crowd in Houston at UFC 262, where his bout with Jack Hermansson was originally scheduled. However, the bout got pushed back one week, and Shahbazyan now finds himself back in the house of that first disappointment. As much as he looked forward to having the crowd’s energy surrounding his fight, he isn’t too broken up about it.

Edmen Shahbazyan trains at the UFC Performance Institute on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Zac Pacleb)
Edmen Shahbazyan trains at the UFC Performance Institute on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Zac Pacleb)

What’s more on his mind is getting back on track in a middleweight division bursting with contenders and featuring an active champion in Israel Adesanya. At the rate “The Last Stylebender” likes to fight, two or three wins in a row could put Shahbazyan right within shouting distance of the champion. 

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He isn’t in a rush, though, which is why he decided to spend the last nine months mostly in the background working on his game instead of jumping right back into another fight. The “necessary” time off included a bit of a break from social media and an uptick in intensity when he gets to the gym to “fine-tune” his skills. That said, he does have a preference when it comes to sharpening his tools, and he’s hopeful that the time away from the spotlight and in the gym sets him back up for a big run starting on May 22.

“Through actual fights, that’s how you get the best experience,” he said. “I would definitely love to stay active. With a win over Jack, I would love to stay active after that and keep improving, keep getting experience, and fighting, fighting, fighting, and challenging myself.”

Edmen Shahbazyan of the United States (L) fights against Brad Tavares of the United States in the Lightweight bout during UFC 244

Hermansson is a particularly strong challenge in the division who also has a penchant for quick finishes. Six of his eight UFC wins came inside the first frame, and he’s known to snatch up submissions in viciously swift fashion. Given Brunson’s success with grappling against Shahbazyan, Hermansson made it known he believes he can finish Shahbazyan on the ground as well.

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Naturally, though, the always-smiling Shahbazyan welcomes that challenge and believes his months of high-intensity work prepared him for opponents who believe the blueprint for success is out on him. Shahbazyan hopes May 22 is the beginning of another strong and eventful stretch, but he’s in no rush – not in his young career nor in the Octagon. He feels like there’s plenty of bright moments ahead, and all he needs to do is exercise some patience.

“I’m not looking for that one big shot right away,” Shahbazyan said. “I’m going to do my thing, and eventually, I know I’m a finisher, of course. I love finishing fights. When a finish presents itself, I take it, but I’m not going to search for that one shot.”

Edmen Shahbazyan prepares to fight Derek Brunson in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Edmen Shahbazyan prepares to fight Derek Brunson in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Shahbazyan’s confidence in what he feels is his natural finishing ability is part of what makes him such a bright young prospect. The majority of the hype is borne out of the highlights he has already made, but he believes this fight against Hermansson – whom he also tabs as a “finisher” – is exactly the right fight for him to show all he gained from his first bout of adversity in the Octagon.

“I definitely took that whole loss and experience as a learning lesson,” he said. “I learned a lot and tuned up some things in practice, in training and just worked on myself to be the best version of myself and to keep evolving, keep improving, and it was a great experience for me.

“I’m happy I went through it. I’m an even better fighter today.”