The UFC Fight Island series is now over. It was hugely popular with fight fans and saw some incredible bouts.
There is some talk that this could become an annual event, taking over from the UFC International Fight Week that has been a mainstay in the MMA calendar.
The main event of the final Abu Dhabi card saw Robert Whittaker take a decision victory over fellow middleweight contender Darren Till. As predicted by OddsBoom last week, Whittaker was able to outstrike the UK middleweight and take the win.
Followers of our UFC advice will have been happy to go 2/2 with Mauricio Rua also scoring the win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in their trilogy fight.
The UFC leaves the Middle East and returns to Vegas this weekend, with the fights once again taking place at the UFC Apex facility.
Vicente Luque v Randy Brown
Prepare for fireworks with this co-main event. These two welterweight contenders have shown that they only know one way of fighting – on the front foot, looking for the stoppage.
Their career records back this up, with 26 finishes between them. This fight looks like a superb piece of matchmaking by the UFC and will almost certainly finish with one of these men being knocked out.
Luque, the 12th ranked welterweight possesses a fearsome stand-up game. His overall MMA record reads 18-7-1, and he has won 11 of his last 13 fights.
His main problem so far in his career is that he does not know when to cover up. Absorbing as many significant strikes as he lands, Luque does run the risk of being caught out when coming forward.
A strength of the Brazilian is his Muay Thai game – arguably among the best in the current roster. He has consistently shown himself to be a game fighter and one that is looking to step up into the top 10 rankings.
His opponent this week is Randy Brown, an equally combative welterweight. Brown possesses a 12-3 MMA record and has won 7 of his last 11 bouts.
Last seen in November taking Fight of the Night honors with a second-round submission win over Warlley Alves, Brown will also be looking to move himself up the welterweight rankings with a win this weekend.
Brown is a very technical, speedy welterweight. He has shown that he has the all-round game to end a fight with strikes, or by way of submission, with four wins by that method to his name. However, he comes into this matchup as the ‘dog, and probably for good reason.
Luque was last seen at UFC 249 when taking a doctor's stoppage win over Niko Price in the 3rd round. He was well ahead on the scorecards when the stoppage came and has now won 5 of his last 7 fights by way of stoppage.
Vicente Luque looks to have the edge, in what should be a spectacular fight. His boxing game is superior to Brown’s, and his recent wins are more impressive.
Luque to win by a late stoppage.
Derek Brunson v Edmen Shahbazyan
Edmen Shahbazyan takes on Derek Brunson in a battle of two well-rounded middleweights. Whilst Brunson (36) is coming towards the end of his career, Shahbazyan (22) is starting to make a real name for himself in the game.
Edmen Shahbazyan comes into this with an undefeated 11-0 record and will be looking to land a win over the far more experienced Brunson ahead of a shot against an established top 10 middleweight in the near future.
Shahbazyen was last seen in November when beating Brad Tavares by way of first-round KO after landing a spectacular head kick.
The Armenian has made a real name for himself as being one of, if not the most, feared up and coming middleweights in the promotion. At only 22 years of age, he has not had the chance to showcase his whole skillset – largely because 10 of his 11 career wins have come in the opening round.
He has a vicious striking game in his armor and has the ability to finish off opponents with frightening ground and pound. Although he has not been able to fully display his grappling ability – he does have one submission win to his name.
Brunson is far more experienced, holding a 20-7 career MMA record, and he has mixed it with some of the very best in the division.
Losses against Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker are not a disgrace, but age may start to catch up with him soon. He is, however riding a 2 fight win streak – with his latest win being a very dominant decision win at UFC 241 over Iain Heinisch.
He has shown himself to be a talented wrestler as well as a striker over the course of his career, and Shahbazyen has almost certainly not faced anyone of Brunson’s caliber to date.
It looks likely that the younger man will score another win here and move his overall record to 12-0.
It is doubtful that the win will come as easily as the 11 that have come before though, and Brunson may well take this fight into the later rounds. However, it is hard to see the older man scoring the win here, and the most likely outcome is that Shahbazyen scores a stoppage win.
Edmen Shahbazyan to win by KO.