One of MMA's hottest prospects will be back soon.
Edmen Shahbazyan will fight Derek Brunson in a pivotal middleweight bout at UFC 248 on March 7 in Las Vegas, the UFC announced Wednesday. Shahbazyan is one of the top young fighters in all of MMA. ESPN ranked the 22-year-old at No. 3 on its list of the top 25 MMA fighters under 25 years old last fall.
Shahbazyan (11-0) has won all four of his UFC fights, the last three by first-round finish. The California native beat Brad Tavares with a head kick at UFC 244 back in November. Shahbazyan is trained by Ronda Rousey's longtime coach Edmond Tarverdyan at Glendale Fighting Club in the Los Angeles area and represented by Rousey's management firm.
Brunson (20-7) has won two straight, most recently a unanimous decision over Ian Heinisch at UFC 241 last August. The North Carolina native holds an 11-5 UFC record dating back to 2011. Brunson, 26, has lost only to top middleweights in his UFC career: champion Israel Adesanya; former champions Robert Whittaker and Anderson Silva; and stalwarts Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero.
UFC 248 is headlined by Adesanya's first title defense, against Romero. In the co-main event, Zhang Weili makes her own first title defense of the UFC women's strawweight title against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.