The Severe Spotlight: Edmen Shahbazyan

The redemption arc is a powerful one across folklore. As is the young and budding prospect, itching, and edging to make a name for himself. Edmen Shahbazyan made a name for himself initially by being the young protégée in the background of Ronda Rousey training footage.

That can be a gift and a curse for a young talent. Being in the same room as a mega star, an Olympian, a first mover for women’s MMA in the UFC has its technical perks. It allows an athlete to view what the potential is from both an attention standpoint and an athletic standpoint. However, having your name tied to such a star can catapult you into alternate realms.

A turbulent UFC career got back on track after Shahbazyan returned to winning ways with a blazing first round stoppage of AJ Dobson.

An action packed first 30 seconds see’s Dobson try to establish the range with some combination punching and Shahbazyan work to establish himself beyond a thudding low lead kick. As the next minute continues, Shahbazyan does a fantastic job of beginning to read the patterns to Dobsons footwork and drawing kick check reactions from the lead leg. He used this to begin to bait Dobson into stepping into range and begin to throw his combinations, only to catch Dobson on the way in with the left hand over the shoulder.

As has been the concern for Shahbazyan over his previous fights, is what happens when he gets clipped, when he gets hurt. The damage taken in his 2020-2023 run can change a fighter forever. A counter right hand from Dobson connects to the left side of the Shahbazyan jaw and stumbles him. Dobson tries a little hard to leap on the opportunity and misses his follow up shots as Shahbazyan dives on a leg. Dobson sprawls and latches onto a front headlock – realising the chin was tucked he releases Shahbazyan and stands him back up straight with a crisp left knee and a left hook for good measure.

Not only does Shahbazyan look dialled in and focussed despite the wobble, after a brief reset, he dives back into the fire again. No sooner had he entered that he found himself in an over-under clinch. He switched his head and dropped into a beautiful inside trip that would have made both Ronda and ex-judo coach Justin Flores proud.  

Not only have we seen Shahbazyan take a shot and weather the storm. We have seen him re-engage, hit a beautiful takedown, and control the position from top. Fantastic signs.

Dobson does a great job of working to his left hip, far shoulder posting and beginning to heist his way to the cage. Shahbazyan follows but rushes the back take. He opts to reach for the seatbelt due to gaining his bottom hook, but failing to have a far wrist control and his head on the same side as the bottom hook allowed Dobson to rotate through the space quicker than Shahbazyan could follow. In the scramble for back control Dobson continues his internal rotation, clears the bottom hook, elbow posts and gains top position.

Unfazed, Shahbazyan works diligently between collar ties, bicep ties, forearm clamps and dropping elbows to the top of Dobsons skull. Those same vicious elbows allowed Shahbazyan to work backwards, eventually getting his back to the cage wall and beginning to heist. His choice to grip the left hand of Dobson allows him to build up to a combat base, and he smartly switches to the whizzer as he builds to maintain standing and not give up his back.

With just shy of a minute left the clinch exchanges are broken and the fighters separate into open space. Shahbazyan the fighter pushing forward, looking to pull Dobson into exchanges.

And pull he does.

Shahbazyan feint steps into range, forcing Dobson to react. Shahbazyan feints again but this time doesn’t move, knowing that Dobson will throw in panic. That shot comes in the form of an overhand right, which Shahbazyan avoids nicely. Knowing that he know has his man worried, the same feint comes out to which Dobson this time throws a crowded 1-2. The 2 is countered by a thunderous left hook from the back pocket, landing flush behind the ear followed swiftly by a chopping right hand.

Unlike Dobson earlier in the round, Shahbazyan measures the task at hand, follows his man to the canvas, places a right hand on the shoulder to anchor himself for the enslaught of shots that followed. Left hands, elbows and more left hands slammed into Dobson until referee Mark Smith was forced to intervene.

There is still time for a 26-year-old Edmen Shahbazyan to be something in this 185lb UFC division. A 6 year UFC veteran means something, and he is doing his best to show that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.