With the largest opportunity of his young career at hand, competing upon his biggest stage yet and facing his most formidable opponent thus far, Edmen Shahbazyan remained the first-round finishing force he’s been fight in and fight out in his burgeoning mixed martial arts career.
Only 40 seconds were needed for the 20-year-old Shahbazyan to mow through Antonio “Doomsday” Jones via technical knockout on Tuesday night in a middleweight bout in Las Vegas on “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series.”
With the victory, he earned a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship as bestowed by White, the UFC president.
“It feels great, I’ve been dreaming this ever since I was a kid,” said Shahbazyan, a Hoover High product who’s trained under Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club for more than half of his life, in a postfight interview on UFC Fight Pass. “This is just the beginning.
“I’m going to make a big impact; I’m coming to be the best in the world and I’m ready.”
Maycee Barber and Domingo Pilarte were also awarded contracts out of the five winners on the five-fight card. It was Shahbazyan who set the bar high, though, winning impressively in the first fight of the night.
“I think I’m a young, hungry fighter,” Shahbazyan said after the bout. “I’ve been training since 10 years old, I’m just hungry, I’m hungry; I want to be the best fighter in the world.”
Referee Herb Dean called a halt to the bout as Shahbazyan unleashed a barrage of ground-and-pound punches to send Jones (6-1) to his first career defeat. Shahbazyan, meanwhile, impressively moved his record to 7-0, all of his triumphs coming via first-round knockout.
It was some right uppercuts that began the fight-ending barrage, finding their mark underneath Jones’ defense before a follow-up left hook dropped Jones. Then, Shahbazyan did what he’s done just about every fight out, swarming his fallen opponent with relentless strikes.
“I knew my hands were gonna be much better,” Shahbazyan said. “Everywhere in the game, I knew I was gonna be better than him. It’s just that I had to stay focused, calm, relaxed and I knew I would get job the done.”
The two came together exchanging punches at the onset with Jones getting off first.
However, Shahbazyan changed the fight for good with an overhand right that seemed to stun Jones and allowed Shahbazyan to grab a muay Thai clinch where he landed four knees to the body.
Then came a right uppercut to the body, another overhand right and another uppercut to the body.
Two more right uppercuts followed, but this time they found Jones’ chin before the left hook floored Jones. Shahbazyan, an instinctive finisher, pounced with right hands before Jones rolled and he landed a storm of left hands until Dean pushed him off as a throng of fans who made the trip to Las Vegas cheered him on. Moments later, he was congratulated by Tarverdyan.
“Edmond’s a great trainer, I’ve been with him from the start and we’re gonna get back to the top, be that world champion, baby,” said Shahbazyan, who wrestled at Hoover and reached the CIF State Meet in 2015.
Tarverdyan previously trained former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who now manages Shahbazyan as part of her One Fight Management company.
Fighting for a UFC contract against his first opponent with a record above .500, Shahbazyan shined on his biggest stage yet.