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Baseline MMA – Episode 4: Brunson Upsets The Golden Boy, The Black Beast Is Back!

The full crew is locked in on a big fight weekend as Cody, TJ and Josh recap UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan and preview the upcoming shows in both the UFC and Bellator.

Also, the Fightcast segment announces some upcoming big fights, the guys look ahead to some upcoming non-UFC events, and picks are locked in for this weekend!

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan Results and Recap

The UFC returned stateside to the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday with an event that had some late notice trouble, numerous low blows and some fun fights and finishes.

The show originally was scheduled to feature eleven fights, but the show lost three fighters on Thursday leading to changes.

Come Saturday morning, the show was booked with nine fights, but would lose Gerald Meerschart on fight day due to a positive COVID-19 test result. When the show officially got underway, the nine-fight card was tied for the smallest card in the last five years.

Once under way, the fights as usual were exciting and fast-paced from an opening draw to back to back upsets on the main card. Here’s a full recap of UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan:

Middleweight (185 lbs.) Main Event: Derek Brunson (21-7) defeated Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) by 3rd Round TKO at 0:26

In a fight that many considered an opportunity for young California prospect Edmen Shahbazyan to truly shine and emerge in the middleweight division, instead it was Derek Brunson proving he’s in no way at gatekeeper.

Brunson and Shahbazyan traded on their feet early in the fight, but it was clear in the second round that Brunson had a wrestling advantage and landed some big ground and pound nearly getting the fight stopped at the conclusion of round two. After both Shahbazyan’s corner and the doctor okay’d the fight to continue for round three, Brunson went right to work dragging Shahbazyan to the ground and landing a few more big shots leading to referee Herb Dean stopping the fight under 30 seconds into the round.

For Brunson, it marks his third straight win after changing camps to work closer with coach Henri Hooft and now puts him right back into the mix in the middleweight division.

Shahbazyan is still young as he taste defeat for the first time at 22-years-old, but this was a big learning experience for the former training partner of Ronda Rousey. Shahbazyan will likely recover and learn more from this then he would another quick win and I expect another impressive run from the prospect beginning closer to the end of the year.

Women’s Flyweight (125 lbs.): Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) defeated Joanne Calderwood (14-5) by 1st Round Submission (armbar) at 4:29

Joanne Calderwood took a risk accepting a short-notice fight when earlier this year, she was scheduled to meet Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko for the gold until Valentina was forced to withdraw due to injury. The risk did not pay off as submission specialist Maia would lock in a tight armbar for the finish late in round one.

After exchanging some strikes in the first few minutes of the fight, Calderwood would take the fight to the ground against Maia and look to work some of her dangerous elbows from the guard of Maia. Maia would be patient and then throw up a slick armbar attempt that would forced Calderwood to fall to the side and allow Maia to lock up the arm deeper leading to the tap.

Shortly after the finish, the champ Shevchenko would tweet, “See you soon Jennifer Maia” leading to speculation that Maia likely earned a future title shot with her finish of Calderwood.

Welterweight (170 lbs.): Vicente Luque (19-7-1) defeated Randy Brown (12-4) by 2nd Round TKO at 4:56

Vicente Luque continues to be one of the most fun to watch finishers in the UFC. Against the long and rangy Randy Brown, Luque would close the distance and land some hard leg kicks and strong hooks to drop Brown twice leading to a late finish in the second round.

Luque has won six of his last seven with five of those wins coming by TKO. Post-fight, Luque expressed interest in a fight Nate Diaz. In the end, Luque deserves a top tier opponent next after a great run so far in 2020 with finishes of Niko Price and now, Randy Brown.

Lightweight (155 lbs.): Bobby Green (26-10-1) defeated Lando Vannata (11-5-2) by Unanimous Decision

In the night’s best fight, Bobby Green and Lando Vannata would throw a combined 169 significant strikes over three rounds, but Green would be the one that landed 115 of those plus three takedowns leading to a decision victory.

The fight was a rematch from a bout back in 2017 which ended in a draw. Lando landed some of his trademark wild strikes, but in the end, the clean boxing and solid clinch striking would lead to Green’s second win of 2020. The performance from both men would lead to it being the Fight of the Night by the promotion.

The middleweight main card opening fight between Trevin Giles vs. Kevin Holland was cancelled as on his way to the Octagon, Giles would faint. Once Giles recovered and was able to sit backstage under his own power, he requested to continue and proceed to the fight, but the commission wouldn’t allow it.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.): Jonathan Martinez (12-3) defeated Frankie Saenz (13-7) by 3rd Round TKO at 0:57

Jonathan Martinez would pick apart Frankie Saenz in the final preliminary fight of the evening dropping Saenz three times with some great striking including lethal head kicks leading to a stoppage early in the third round.

While Martinez looked very good, he also came into the fight overweight missing the bantamweight mark by 4.5 pounds. Saenz earned 30-percent of Martinez’s fight purse, but would also take home a tough loss. With how good he looked in the fight, Martinez may consider a move to featherweight.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) Nate Maness (12-1) defeated Johnny Munoz (10-1) by Unanimous Decision

After a tough opening round as Munoz would do some good work on the ground on top of Maness, Nate would recover nicely to win the following two rounds.

Munoz also hurt himself by hitting Maness with three low blows in the fight leading to a one-point deduction following the third illegal strike. While Munoz would land a nice slam in the opening round and work some ground and pound, from that point on, Maness would stuff 14 of the next takedown attempts in the fight.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) Jamall Emmers (18-5) defeated Vince Cachero (7-3) by Unanimous Decision

One of the fights that fell apart at the weigh-ins was the Jamall Emmers-Timur Valiev fight, but stepping up on short-notice was Vincent Cachero to meet Emmers.

In the end, Emmers would land over 100 significant strikes and hit five of his seven takedown attempts leading to a dominant victory.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.): Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2) drew with Cody Durden (11-2-1)

You know the night will be a bit wild when the opening bout ends in a unanimous draw. Chris Gutierrez would dominate round one having full back control UFC newcomer Cody Durden for nearly four minutes.

In rounds two and three, Durden would keep the fight standing and land some clean strikes while defending the takedowns much better than he did in the opening frame. According to MMA Decision, it was the first unanimous draw in UFC history with no point deductions in the fight.

Join us this upcoming week for our FightMaker bouts following this card and a new episode of the Baseline MMA Podcast with a full round-up of the show and upcoming events and match-ups!

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan Staff Picks and Predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday with a fun fight card featuring a middlweight showdown between Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan.

The Baseline MMA staff made their picks and predictions for the main card and one thing we’re all in agreement on: this card is loaded with Fight of the Night potential bouts!

Derek Brunson (20-7) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0)

Josh: When this fight was made, I remember seeing a handful of posts that read, “why are they doing Brunson like that?” An undefeated killer against a veteran who’s respectfully revered as a bit of a gatekeeper. Undoubtedly, it should be the toughest fight for Edmen yet, but I believe his crisp striking gets the job done. Brunson could pressure forward and utilize his wrestling, but I think Edmen’s power and technique will be too much; for further reference, refer to Brunson’s fight with Adesanya. Shahbazyan by 2nd Round TKO

Gabe: Not the most thrilling main event, but this is what we have. Do you think Brunson’s chin will hold up? I don’t think so either. Look for Edmen to end this is spectacular fashion. Shahbazyan by 1st Round KO

Cody: Brunson is solid and would love to shed the “gatekeeper” status and he’ll have that chance against an undefeated prospect. No doubt Edmen has the tools to end this fight early, but I believe this is a must-win for Brunson to stay relevant in the middleweight division. Bruson will make Edmen work, but Shahbazyan will still do enough to get the nod. Shahbazyan by Unanimous Decision

Joanne Calderwood (14-4) vs. Jennifer Maia (17-6-1)

Josh: Joanne seemed to be next in line to fight Valentina for the title and she risks losing it by staying active? I can respect that and I truly like her chances against Maia. Maia has missed weight in her last two fights and is 2-2 in her last four. Calderwood is tough and in pure technical ability, I feel she’s the more balanced fighter offering a mixed attack on the feet and on the ground. Calderwood by Split Decision

Gabe: Calderwood is going to get her out of there early as Maia’s gas tank will come into play as the fight goes into deep water. Calderwood by 2nd Round TKO

Cody: A big risk taking a short-notice fight while seemingly the number one contender, but it also gives “JoJo” a chance to secure a future title shot if she can finish Maia. Much easier said than done though as Maia hasn’t been finished since 2012. Calderwood by Unanimous Decision

Vicente Luque (18-7-1) vs. Randy Brown (12-3)

Josh: More than likely your Fight of the Night, Luque has made quite the name for himself for being always game and ready to always throw down! Brown, making his first appearance in 2020, is an absolute finisher with a rangy boxing style and some deadly clinch strikes. Luque has great boxing and is willing to eat one here and there while on the attack. Randy has upset potential here if he can touch him clean, but I don’t think it happens against Luque’s movement. Vicente’s tough and gritty fighting style will give him the edge. Luque by Unanimous Decision

Gabe: One of the best fights on the card, Luque is tough as nails and dishes out nearly six strikes per minute. He’s precise, technical and can do serious damage if you are reckless. However, Luque does absorb a fair amount of damage and one mistake could lead to Brown walking away with a big win. Brown is a long, rangy fighter who could pick you apart at a distance if he’s disciplined. The money is coming in on Luque and I tend to agree. Luque by 3rd Round TKO

Cody: As both Josh and Gabe pointed out, this is likely your Fight of the Night if not of the entire year! Luque is a brawler with a great mix of power and a top-notch chin. Luque’s only losses over the last five years have been decisions to Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards; no shame in either of those. Luque is pure violence, which means Brown must avoid that style of fight. Brown must use his distance and try to stay on the outside to earn a decision win or find a clean opening. If Brown can effectively use his range and distance, he has a good chance, but if things get ugly, Luque may earn another bonus and a top tier opponent for later this year. Luque by 2nd Round TKO

Lando Vannata (11-4-2) vs. Bobby Green (25-10-1)

Josh: What a treat! A rematch I’ve wanted to see for awhile. Green is fun to watch and Lando has established himself as “must see TV.” In terms of striking, although Lando is flashy and exciting, on paper, Green has the heavier shots and higher accuracy. We also can’t forget that Lando is a BJJ brown belt and his February win over Yance Meideros makes me pull for him in this match-up. Vannata by Split Decision

Gabe: Second times a charm, right? These two warriors fought to a draw in 2017 and both fighters will come in looking to settle the score. Both men are content in fighting the full fifteen so I expect that again in this one. I think Green gets the edge in this one. Green by Unanimous Decision

Cody: Could be one of the first fights in UFC history to be a draw twice! These two are evenly matched with Lando’s wild striking and Green’s walk-you-down style. I can honestly see Lando hurting Green early with an elbow or flying knee and winning the opening round 10-8 then Green just outstriking and outworking Lando in rounds two and three seriously leading to a second draw (you can see it now too, huh?), but for the sake of picks, I’ll run with Green picking up a close victory. Green by Split Decision

Kevin Holland (17-5) vs. Trevin Giles (12-2)

Josh: This fight will be a banger as well. Holland had a flawless victory in his last fight while Giles is coming off a win over James Krause. This fight could go anywhere: Giles has the grappling advantage and throws wild strikes while Holland has nasty ground and pound and more tuned and refined striking. I see Kevin using his counter striking and sleeping Giles in the first! Holland by 1st Round KO

Gabe: This is another great striking battle between two up and coming middleweights. I can see it going either way, but I’d lean slightly towards Giles pulling out the decision win. Giles by Spit Decision

Cody: Both these guys have been a bit inconsistent in their UFC runs so far with Holland 3-2 in the promotion with his losses to Thiago Santos and Brendan Allen while Giles is also 3-2, but has loss two of his last three and his split decision win against James Krause in February did more for Krause than it did Giles considering Krause stepped up a weight class on one-day notice, but was just overpowered. When Giles looks good, he looks like a future contender, but I like Holland much better overall especially in the opening three minutes of this match-up. Holland by 1st Round TKO

Cody Quick Prelim Picks:
Jonathan Martinez over Frankie Saenz
Gerald Meerschart over Ed Herman
Nathan Maness over Ray Borg
Markus Perez over Eric Spicely
Timur Valiev over Jamall Emmers
Chris Gutierrez over Cody Durden

Join us next week on the Baseline MMA Podcast to recap UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan and see how we did with our picks!