The UFC has been forced to change next weekend’s main event.
The Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana headliner has been canceled after Aldana was forced to withdraw. The current plan, according to sources, is to rebook Holm and Aldana for an Oct. 5. main event.
As a result, the Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan fight has been promoted to the main event. The current plan is for it to be a three-round headliner as opposed to a five-rounder due to the short-notice switch.
The Holm-Aldana bantamweight fight was expected to be a potential No. 1 contender fight for Aldana, who had won two in a row and five of her last six fights.
Shahbazyan (11-0), who is co-managed by former UFC champion Ronda Rousey, is considered one of the brightest young stars in the sport. The undefeated 22-year-old has finished 10 of his 11 opponents, including his last three in the first round. He most recently defeated Brad Tavares via knockout in November.
“This kid is special,” Rousey said. “He is one-in-a-generation, and I know what the f— I’m looking at, and you know what you’re looking at. And it’s interesting to finally be in this time when everyone else is starting to take notice. He’s such a sweet and quiet kid, but man he’s a killer. When people take a moment to watch him, they’ll never be able to forget him.”
UFC president Dana White said: “And this is the biggest test of his career. Brunson is No. 8 [by the UFC], he’s No. 9. If he can get through Brunson, and he wins this fight, it’s straight killers after that. He’s looking at breaking into the Top 5, which is very, very hard to do in the UFC.”
Brunson (20-7) has won his last two in a row. His last UFC appearance came 11 months ago when he defeated Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision.
The event will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.