UFC Fight Night 173 is a wrap! The chaos that plagued this fight card continued into the event itself, but the event also came with its high points. Join us as we break down the full main card, fight-by-fight.
Derek Brunson vs Edmen Shahbazyan
Edmen Shahbazyan has made headlines as a highly touted middleweight prospect. Undefeated at 11-0, Shahbazyan finished 10 of his 11 opponents. His devastating striking earned him a knockout against his first ranked opponent in Brad Tavares. Now ranked number nine in the UFC, he would be facing the number-eight-ranked Derek Brunson. Brunson has fought some of the best in the world, including Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Uriah Hall, and Ian Heinisch. Shahbazyan wouldn’t be the first prospect Brunson had taken out and he appeared confident he could add Shahbazyan to his trophy case.
The first round proved to be competitive. Both men tested each other’s chins and mounted significant offense. The second round opened with a heavy body kick landed by Shahbazyan. However, it wasn’t long before Brunson began to take over while Shahbazyan slowed down. By the end of the second round, Brunson had Shahbazyan on the ground and was landing heavy punches. Herb Dean nearly stopped the fight but Shahbazyan was saved by the bell.
Although Shahbazyan had technically made it to the end of the round, Dean called in a doctor to assess the condition of the fighter. Though Shahbazyan looked exhausted and discouraged, he said he wished to continue. The doctor allowed the fight to go on. Brunson began landing punches on Shahbazyan quickly into the third. As Shahbazyan and Brunson were hitting the ground again, Herb Dean stepped in and waved off the fight before Brunson could land any ground and pound. Derek Brunson defeated Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO in round 3.
For the time being, the rise of Edmen Shahbazyan has come to a halt. Shahbazyan has a wealth of potential, but Derek Brunson served him up some hard lessons at UFC Fight Night 173. At 36-years-old, Derek Brunson showed his critics that he can still smash the young guys. He is right where he belongs in the top 10 and he has earned a higher-ranked opponent for his next fight. Perhaps a bout against Darren Till or Kelvin Gastelum could be on the horizon.
Joanne Calderwood vs Jennifer Maia
When Viviane Araujo pulled out of her fight against Jennifer Maia, Joanne Calderwood stepped in to fight on short notice. This surprised many people as Calderwood was supposed to fight Valentina Schevchenko for the flyweight title next. In fact, the title fight was supposed to happen in June, but Shevchenko pulled out due to injury. This clash would either solidify Calderwood’s status as the number contender or derail her title aspirations. One could argue that a win for Maia over the consensus flyweight number one contender could leapfrog the Brazilian into title contention.
This battle would end in the first round. The fight hit the ground and Jennifer Maia was able to slap on an armbar. Calderwood appeared to be working her way out of the submission hold, but Maia was able to adjust and get enough torque to make Calderwood tap. Joanne Calderwood is no longer the flyweight number one contender, and Jennifer Maia, at the very least, just broke into the top five. Shortly after the finish, Valentina Shevchenko tweeted “See you soon Jennifer Maia.” During her post-fight interview with Paul Felder, Maia also called for a title shot against Shevchenko. It sounds like this matchup could now be a foregone conclusion.
Vincent Luque vs Randy Brown
When their first bout was scrapped due to COVID-19, Randy Brown was likely devastated. Vincent Luque would have been his biggest fight to date and a win could have easily placed Brown in the top 15. Lucky for him, the bout would be rebooked at UFC Fight Night 173. Though Brown came into this bout with back-to-back finishes over Bryan Barberena and Warley Alves, Luque was on a much more extensive run. Luque was 7-1 in his last eight bouts, with his lone loss being a decision against Stephen Thompson. He also finished six of the seven opponents he defeated. This would easily be Brown’s toughest matchup to date.
Though Randy Brown displayed a valiant effort, Vincent Luque proved to be too much for the up-and-comer. Brown displayed great striking and even got a takedown on Luque. But Luque was noticeably hurting Brown by landing several calf kicks. In the second round, both men ended up against the fence and Luque landed a powerful knee to the head that dropped Brown. When Brown fell to his knees, Luque tagged Brown with a few more punches that forced the referee to wave off the fight. Vincent Luque defeated Randy Brown via TKO in round 2.
Lando Vannata vs Bobby Green
This fight would be a rematch of a bout that ended in a draw. Lando Vannata told reporters that he felt he clearly won the first fight. When Bobby Green was asked about this, he didn’t necessarily refute it. He made note that Vannata had dropped him in the first fight, but he also said that Vannata’s face was much more busted up afterward. Green quite candidly admitted to feeling ‘kind of depressed’ at the time of their first fight. He felt that the public wasn’t watching and nobody cared. Green believed this affected his performance enough for Daniel Cormier to take notice. When Cormier began asking Green questions, he became re-motivated. For Green, if the champion was taking notice, something needed to change.
The adjustments that Green made were on full display in the rematch. Green outstruck and even dropped Vannata over the course of three rounds. When the judge’s decision was being read, there was no question as to who the victor was. A dejected Vannata hung his head while Bobby Green exuded excitement. Bobby Green defeated Lando Vannata via unanimous decision.
Kevin Holland vs Trevin Giles
Unfortunately, this matchup was scrapped when Trevin Giles suddenly fainted just moments before walkouts. Upon learning of this, the commission had no choice but to cancel the fight. Giles woke up and still wanted to make the walk, but he was instead taken to a local hospital for observation. After the bout was canceled, Kevin Holland took to Twitter and began calling for a short-notice bout against Ed Herman. Gerald Meerschaert had to pull out of his bout with Herman earlier in the day when he tested positive for COVID-19. Though it probably couldn’t have happened, Holland seemed more than willing to take the fight. Hopefully, this matchup can be rebooked in the not-to-distant future.