Derek Brunson beat Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO in the third round of the main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on August 1.
Shahbazyan was 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the UFC before facing Brunson. He also had three straight finishes in the first round and was praised by many, including his manager, the legendary Ronda Rousey. Brunson had this to say about Shahbazyan: “He definitely has the tools, you know, but sometimes you get those reminders early in your career, I think I was it for him.”
Brunson’s past opponent, Israel Adesanya congratulated him: “Nice one Brunson. Really showed your level of experience in this fight. Enjoy your time with your kids.”
Brunson, a competitive cheerleader and wrestler at John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington, North Carolina under coach Dan Willis, had scholarships for both sports but opted to wrestle in college.
He is also a three-time Division II All-American wrestler from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. After that, he focused on mixed martial arts. His professional debut was at CFP – Carolina’s Summer Fight Series 1 on May 22, 2010 against John Bryant.
After winning his next five fights, all before 2:30 of the first round, Brunson made his Strikeforce debut on June 24, 2011 at Strikeforce Challengers 16. He would beat then-undefeated Jeremy Hamilton via unanimous decision.
Facing the who’s who in the division, Brunson has fought Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Israel Adesanya.
Brunson now has consecutive wins over Elias Theodorou, Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan.