Now 11-2 as a professional and 4-2 in the UFC, Shahbazyan is amazingly only 23 years old. Nine of his eleven wins have come via knockout. Also a young prospect, Imavov is 10-3 professionally and 2-1 in the UFC. His wins are split among four knockouts, four submissions, and two decisions.
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Shahbazyan vs. Imavov betting odds
On paper, Shahbazyan vs. Imavov is the closest fight. Currently, they are at nearly even odds.
Shahbazyan vs. Imavov fight breakdown
Edmen “Golden Boy” Shahbazyan entered the UFC at only 20 years old, on the heels of a DWCS victory, and had some serious hype around his game because of his connection to Ronda Rousey. He quickly separated himself as a prospect to watch because of his size, speed, and dangerous stopping power. Shahbazyan is a finisher with natural speed and power coupled with improving technique and fight IQ. As with many intelligent fighters, Shahbazyan does not just headhunt, instead, he is willing and able to slip and roll to land a strike to his opponent’s body. Despite his lengthy physique, Shahbazyan is comfortable fighting in the clinch where he can rely on often having the edge in power and defensive movement. Further, he is comfortable wrestling offensively and averages nearly 3 takedowns per fight. However, when facing a high-end wrestler, Shahbazyan showed a deficiency that, partially, derailed his hype train. On the feet, so much of what made him such an exciting prospect, speed, and power, is still there; but, he needs to shore up his defensive grappling if he hopes to re-ascend the ladder.
I’m not sure what Imavov did to upset UFC matchmakers; but, for the third fight in a row, and only his fourth fight in the UFC, the Frenchman has a real challenge on his hands. He, himself though, is also a challenge. Imavov is a sharp boxer with solid power. Defensively, his cardio, head movement, guard, and footwork are all impressive. Despite facing 2 respected UFC middleweights so early in his career, Imavov still holds a 2 to 1 striking differential edge. Further, even though he faced a solid grappler and wrestler, in his last fight, Imavov stuffed all three takedown attempts and even landed one of his own. He is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who, beyond being fundamentally sound, has the cardio and precision to separate himself from other generally well-rounded fighters.
Shahbazyan vs. Imavov prediction
I’m really excited about this fight. Both fighters are young, very technical, and hungry. I don’t anticipate this fight hitting the mat as both men prefer to stand and strike. Also, since Shahbazyan has only been finished by ground and pound and Imavov by submission, I anticipate this fight going all 15 minutes. That could favor Imavov because of his cardio and stick-and-move style. But, I favor Shahbazyan in this one. I see him landing the more significant strikes and winning the game in the clinch. Take him to win a close decision in a fun and technical fight.
Prediction: Shahbazyan by decision
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.