Pre-fight Analysis

Shahbayzan vs Brunson – Main Event Betting Guide

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The ‘Golden Boy’ Edmen Shahbayzan takes on Derek Brunson in a battle of top 10 UFC middleweights, this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 173, live from the UFC Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before betting the fight, take a look at the individual betting trends for each fighter, shared here at

Current Odds:
Edmen Shahbazyan -303
Derek Brunson +280

Tale of the Tape:

Derek Brunson is 36 years old, with a 20-7 professional record. He stands at 6’1, with a 77-inch reach. His opponent, Edmen Shahbazyan is undefeated (11-0) at 22 years old, he is 6’2 with a 74-inch reach. Brunson is 14 years senior to Shahbazyan and has a 3-inch reach advantage in this match up. The ‘Golden Boy’ Shahbazyan 4-0 in the UFC, while Derek Brunson has a career UFC record of 11-5. Brunson is the far more experienced of the two, but too much experience could be his downfall, in a match-up against one of the up and coming, rising stars of the UFC middleweight division.

Recent Fighter History

Derek Brunson is on a two-fight winning streak heading into this Saturday’s bout. He picked up back to back victories in 2019, over Elias Theodorou at UFC Fight Night 151 in May. As well as a unanimous decision victory over Ian Heinisch at UFC 241 in August of 2019. Brunson comes into this fight with the rising prospect Shahbazyan, looking to hold onto his top 10 UFC Middleweight ranking. While currently ranked #8 in the division, ‘the Golden Boy’ Shahbazyan is right on his tail at #9. Needless to say, the winner this one will be looking to catapult themselves into the title conversation at 185lbs, while the loser may find themselves outside of the top 10, looking in.

Meanwhile, for Edmen Shahbayzan, ‘the Golden Boy’ has strung six wins together since he’s come on the scene in the UFC, which includes his debut on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2018. Since then, Shahbayzan has picked up a few notable victories, including a 1st round stoppage victory over a #12 middleweight in Brad Tavares. Edmen takes his undefeated record into the top 10 with a date this Saturday against #8 Derek Brunson and hopes to make a case for a shot at a top 5 fighter with a victory, and maybe even some style points.

The measure of Expectation: Derek Brunson

Going back to his 2012 Strikeforce days, Derek Brunson has gone 11-6, bettors have profited +1.58 units backing him on the moneyline. Bettors who have backed Brunson with a $100 wager in every one of his bouts have profited +$9 per fight, win or lose. A marginal amount, but at the end of the day, Derek Brunson is still a +EV fighter.

The measure of Expectation: Edmen Shahbayzan

In his five UFC appearances, including his debut on Dana White’s Contender Series, Edmen Shahbazyan has finished four of five fights ‘Inside the Distance’. Bettors who have backed ‘Shahbazyan Inside the Distance’ in his five UFC bouts have gone 4-1 for +3.94 units profit. On the moneyline, Shahbazyan is a perfect 5-0 for +2.88 units profit. Shahbazyan has delivered as the betting favorite every single time he’s been asked and has performed far before his expectations since arriving in the UFC.

Brunson Fight Betting Trends:

Since his StrikeForce days back in 2012, Derek Brunson has had 17 pro-fights, with 11 of them going ‘Under’ the betting total. Bettors who have backed the ‘Under’ in all of Derek Brunson’s last 17 fights have gone 11-6 for +6.14 units profit.

Shahbayzan Fight Betting Trends:

Since making his Dana White’s Contender Series debut in 2018, Edmen Shahbazyan has had five UFC appearances, and four of five bouts have gone ‘Under’ the betting total. Bettors who have backed the ‘Under’ in all five of Shahbazyan’s fights have gone: 4-1, for +4.41 units profit.

Division Betting Trends:

The most notable division betting trend for the UFC Men’s Middleweight division is the ‘Over’. Since the start of 2019, the ‘Over’ at middleweight has hit at a 65% rate, going 41-22 for +4.09 units profit. Based on implied probability, the ‘Over’ in any Middleweight bout has a value at -186 or better. while the total for this main event is currently sitting at ‘Over 1.5 Rounds’ with the Over currently priced at -104.

How the fight plays out.

Derek Brunson has had a tendency to come out with guns blazing, and it has cost him in the past. However, Burnson has learned to calm his pace and has become a more calculated and less chaotic fighter over his last two UFC appearances. Those fights resulted in decision victories. He will need to remain in that calm state against Shahbayzan, or things could become dicey very quickly.

Toe to Toe.

Brunson comes into this fight an inch shorter than his opponent but has a 3-inch reach advantage. However, Brunson tends to overextend his punches against taller opponents, and if he isn’t careful against a precision striker like Shahbayzan, it could set up a knock out for the ‘Golden Boy’ on the counter-attack. There is a substantial difference in age between these two fighters, with Brunson 14 years old than Shahbazyan. The main disadvantage that Brunson will give up due to his age in this match-up is his hand speed. Because of this, Brunson will have to keep outside of Shahbayzan’s boxing range as much as he can. If Brunson finds himself trading in the pocket with Shahbazyan, he will likely be outclassed. While he has been known for his own hand speed in his UFC career, if Brunson tries to prove a point against the ‘Golden Boy’ he may end up getting schooled by the young buck Shahbayzan.

Make or Break.

Edmen Shahbayzan is a crafty striker and utilizes his jab a lot more than your typical middleweight. Shahbazyan likes to jab his way into striking range and gets into the pocket by leading off with a strong double jab. This is the style of fight that Shahbazyan does his best work in. While he leans on his jab quite a lot, he does use it to set up other strikes, with feints and fakes. A big part of Shahbazyan’s transition game stems primarily from his jab. What he will attempt is fake the double jab to set up a low body strike, or a high head kick, which is what he used to knock out Brad Tavares. If Shahbazyan is able to stick the jab to Brunson in this fight, he will open the door to a plethora of weapons on the transition. This is a huge ‘make or break’ factor for Brunson, his ability to interrupt Shahbazyan’s timing and keep him off rhythm, will be a big part of his path to success.

Closing the Distance.

If there is any subtle flaw to the ‘Golden Boy’s fight game, it’s that he may a little bit too confident in his striking defense. Shahbayzan has a bad habit of leaving his hands down when he is backing out of his opponent’s range. Normally, against the average fighter in his UFC comeuppance, this would be a non-factor. However, it could become a point of contention against Derek Brunson for one reason, distance. Derek Bruson has a superb ability to close distance on his opponents and closes it fast. If Shahbayzan isn’t extra careful when he disengages, Brunson may be able to expose him in his most vulnerable state.

Best Bets:

While it’s not your regular cup of tea to bet betting $330 to win $100 when backing the fighter you think is going to win. It would be a massive upset if Derek Brunson is able to get the victory over Edmen Shahbazyan. It’s not exactly too tall of an order to be asking this 22-year-old prospect to dispose of an aging veteran, because the ‘Golden Boy’ as they call him, is exactly that, and then some. While -330 is a little bit steep, the real value in this fight is by ‘Shahbazyan by T/KO or DQ’ at -160, or the ‘Under 1.5 Rounds’ prop at -120. Splitting 3 units between those two plays, may, in fact, be the best way to go, when betting this main event. Good luck.

Brunson/Shahbayzan u1.5 (-120)
Edmen Shahbazyan (T/KO or DQ) -160

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Al Mac is a Canadian combat sports writer specializing in betting odds and historical betting trends. Follow on Twitter @AlMacOdds

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