This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 73, we saw a battle in the middleweight division. Former top prospect Edmen “The Golden Boy” Shabazyan (12-4) was taking on Contender Series veteran Anthony Hernandez (11-2).
Hernandez entered the bout with a ton of momentum having won three fights in a row. Meanwhile Shabazyan, was looking to start his first winning streak since he suffered his first loss inside the octagon. After earning a UFC contract on the Contender Series, Shabazyan looked like a star in the making.
He won his first four fights inside the octagon. Not too mention the fact that three of those wins came in the first round. He had tremendous technique and looked to be incredibly well-rounded. He was booked in a main event against Derek Brunson and that’s where it fell apart.
Three straight losses for Shabazyan started with that Brunson fight. He got exposed with a weaker grappling game and his cardio was incredibly suspect. He had a bounce back TKO win back in December, but Hernandez was a big step back up in competition.
Like with many of his fights, Shabazyan started strong at UFC Vegas 73. He looked liked the guy who was once a top contender. However, the same issues started plaguing him once again. He couldn’t keep Hernandez from taking him down and dominating him.
After probably winning the first round, Shabazyan was likely the victim of a 10-8 round in round 2. The third round didn’t take very long. Shabazyan wasn’t able to keep it standing and just over a minute into the round, Hernandez finished him to hand Shabazyan his fourth UFC loss in his last five fights.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 73?
Edmen Shabazyan’s problems inside the octagon has nothing to do with raw talent or skill. He truly has talent and if everything came together, he could be a problem at 185 pounds. However, right now, he just has no confidence and if he can’t get his opponents out of there early, he’s in deep trouble.
I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but Shabazyan shouldn’t take another fight until he can prove in the gym that he can go through a war without gassing out. If he can’t do that, every fight is going to end up the same. A hot start from Shabazyan followed by a TKO loss because of exhaustion.
So, who should the UFC book him against next? Honestly, I think a fight with a veteran like Gerald Meerschaert could be the answer. We know that Meerschaert is tough as hell and he’s going to make Shabazyan fight. We also know that he’s susceptible to getting finished.
Either Shabazyan would score a finish to get some confidence back or he’d have to prove that he can dig down deep to win a fight. Either way, the UFC needs to keep pressing him to see whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze with Shabazyan.