UFC is set to have their return to Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on Saturday night when they hold “UFC on ESPN+ 31” from the UFC APEX. The nine-fight show is headlined by up-and-coming middleweight Edmen Shahbazyan fighting in a three-round bout versus veteran Derek Brunson. Follow along throughout the night for live coverage.
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Main Card (9:00PM EDT / 6:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 8: Derek Brunson (20-7) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) (Middleweight)
Derek Brunson got a main event win, stopping Edmen Shahbazyan in the third round with ground and pound. The stoppage came after a dominant second round which saw Brunson land a series of punches from full mount.
Shahbazyan had a strong first round, with most of his best strikes being landed in that round. As cardio became a factor later in the fight, Brunson took over.
“It was hard. All the people on social media, minus 300 underdog,” said Brunson after the fight, mentioning how he noticed that a significant amount of people doubted that he could win.
The fight ended the 11-fight undefeated record of Shahbazyan which included four wins in the UFC.
Bout 7: Joanne Calderwood (14-4) vs. Jennifer Maia (17-6-1) (Flyweight)
Maia Sets Up Title Shot
In the co-main event of the evening, Jennifer Maia got a first round victory over Joanne Calderwood with an armbar.
The finish came shortly after Calderwood landed a takedown. From the bottom Maia was able to slip in an armbar that made Calderwood tap out.
Calderwood took the fight on short notice, replacing Viviane Araujo who pulled out of the show following a positive COVID-19 test. Earlier in the year, Calderwood had a match for the UFC Flyweight Championship cancelled after the champion Valentina Shevchenko withdrew due to injury.
“I want to fight with the champion,” said Maia after the fight.
“See you soon Jennifer Maia,” said champion Shevchenko via Twitter.
The win saw Maia bounce back from a November loss to Katlyn Chookagian.
Bout 6: Vicente Luque (18-7-1) vs. Randy Brown (12-3) (Welterweight)
Luque Stops Brown With Strikes
A striking-heavy performance from Vicente Luque concluded near the end of the second round as he finishing Randy Brown with strikes. The finish came after Luque scored two knockdowns earlier in the fight.
Brown was dropped late in the round by a knee to the head that Luque landed while holding his head. After a few punches on the ground, the referee ended the fight.
Luque was successful earlier in the fight as well, dropping Brown with punches to the head and a kick to the leg.
Brown was down for a few minutes after the fight and was not present for the official ruling afterwards.
Luque got his second win in a row after with his win. Before the losses, Luque took a loss to Stephen Thompson.
“Since I got that loss to [Stephen] Thompson I’ve worked on so many things,” said Luque afterwards.
Luque called out Nate Diaz after the fight, mentioning how Diaz is ranked above him.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy and I’d love to fight him,”
Bout 5: Bobby Green (25-10-1) vs. Lando Vannata (11-4-2) (Lightweight)
Green Wins Rematch Versus Vannata
Kicking off the main card, Bobby Green took a dominant win over Lando Vannata. The fight was a rematch between the two, with their 2017 meeting being a draw.
Green’s striking lead him to the victory, even dropping Vannata in the third round with an elbow to the head.
“If I win this and I get ‘Fight of the Night’ I’m paying off my house,” said Green after the fight, who wanted the $50,000 bonus given to the fight of the night.
After the fight, Green mentioned he fractured one of his hands before the fight. The win was a quick turnaround for Green, who defeated Clay Guida on a June card.
Giles Out of Fight Versus Holland
The card was suddenly moved from nine fights to eight as the show moved to it’s main card. As reported on the broadcast, Trevin Giles fainted before making his walkout before his fight against Kevin Holland. The fight was cancelled before after the situation.
Bout 4: Frankie Saenz (12-6) vs. Jonathan Martinez (11-3) (Bantamweight)
Martinez Finishes Saenz
After he had dominant striking in the rounds before, Jonathan Martinez stopped Frankie Saenz in the third round after connecting with a knee to the head.
Saenz was nearly finished twice in the second round, as two different head kicks dropped him in the round.
Martinez missed weight for the bout, coming in four-and-a-half pounds over the non-championship bantamweight limit. Because of this, 30 percent of his fight purse was given to Saenz.
The fight saw Martinez bounce back from a loss earlier in the year to Andre Ewell.
Bout 3: Nathan Maness (11-1) vs. Johnny Munoz (10-0) (Bantamweight)
Maness Wins UFC Debut
A double UFC debut saw Nate Maness get a decision victory win over Johnny Munoz. The close battle saw Maness get a slight advantage in the third round, as a third groin strike from Munoz caused a point deduction.
Munoz had a strong first round, getting a takedown that allowed him to be dominant on the ground. The fight stayed in a clinch often later as Maness resisted takedown attempts.
Munoz took the fight on short notice, as Maness was meant to fight Ray Borg in his debut. The loss ended Munoz’s 10-fight undefeated record.
Bout 2: Jamall Emmers (17-5) vs. Vincent Cachero (7-2) (Featherweight)
Emmers Gets First UFC Win
Jamall Emmers had a strong performance against short-notice opponent Vincent Cachero in the second bout of the evening. The decision win saw Emmers get a clean sweep on the scorecards, winning all three rounds on the cards.
Emmers had strong striking throughout, including numerous clinches where flurries of knees to the body were landed. In the later minutes of the fight, Emmers scored numerous takedowns.
The fight was the first UFC win for Emmers, who lost his debut last March against Giga Chikadze.
“It took me over 10 years to get here,” said Emmers after the fight.
Bout 1: Chris Gutierrez (15-3-1) vs. Cody Durden (11-2) (Bantamweight)
Gutierrez and Durden Go To A Draw
Kicking off the prelims, Cody Durden’s UFC debut saw him go to a draw versus Chris Gutierrez. All three judges scored the fight 28-28, meaning a fighter on each scorecard scored a 10-8 round at some point.
The first round saw Durden’s best, getting a takedown early and trying for a rear naked choke from the back. Gutierrez’s second and third rounds were his best, out-striking Durden, even dropping him twice in the final round.
Durden took the fight on short notice, replacing the original opponent for Gutierrez, Luke Sanders.
Gutierrez had a three-fight winning streak in the UFC before his fight, including a stoppage win over Vince Morales in May.
Meerschaert Out of Bout Following Positive COVID-19 Test
Gerald Meerschaert was removed from his light heavyweight debut versus Ed Herman on the show following a positive COVID-19 test. The change came on Saturday afternoon, bringing the show down to nine bouts in total.
The fight continued a long trend of bouts being changed on the show, as many bouts were changed earlier in the week and on Friday, weigh-in day.