In the UFC Fight Night 173 main event, we have a crossroads clash between long-time contender Derek Brunson and rising star Edmen Shahbazyan. The winner will move one step close to a shot at the middleweight title. Who will that be? Let’s see what the LowKickMMA staff think…

Jordan Ellis: This is a huge step up for Edmen Shahbazyan but one I think he will pass with flying colours. I expect Derek Brunson to be better than we’ve previously seen him against high-level strikers. He will survive early but ultimately get caught by something flashy from Shahbazyan who looks destined for big things.

Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan

Eoin McKenna: I see Edmen staying composed and adding another first-round finish to his catalogue. I’m predicting Brunson to try and take Edmen down and wear him out and Edmen ultimately getting a submission or TKO in the first round.

Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan

Abhinav Kini: Derek Brunson will be his biggest task yet, but I see Edmen Shahbazyan using him as a stepping stone to really enter that title picture at middleweight. He’s undefeated, confident, versatile and has finishes in all but one of his wins. Given how Brunson can get sloppy at times, I predict Shahbazyan getting an early knockout win and really putting the division on notice.

Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan

Brady Briggs: Edmen Shahbazyan is a straight up prodigy, and has already had some incredible performances in the UFC at just 22-years-old. He may be inexperienced at 11-0, while Brunson is 20-7, but in his two most recent victories, he defeated the 23-8 Jack Marshman and the 17-5 Brad Tavares, both of which he stopped before the midway point of round one. He has so many tools at such a young age, but Brunson’s been there and fought the best in the sport for the last eight years. An interesting fact, Brunson has finished 14 of his wins, eleven knockouts and three submissions (all rear naked chokes), but all of his finishes are inside of round one. If his fights go past round one, he usually wins a decision, historically. All that being said, I think Shahbazyan takes it by (T)KO in round one or two.

Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan

Ryan Maccarthy: Israel Adesanya, the Middleweight king went to decision with Brad Tavares. Edmen Shahbazyan beat Tavares in two minutes. He knocked him out cold with a head kick. While i think Brunson is certainly capable of pulling the upset, Shahbazyan is just so calm and relaxed for his age at 22. He definitely needs more experience and all the rest, but I’m really really high on Edmen. I think he has a really bright future and all the makings of a future world champion.  Shahbazyan by 2nd round TKO

Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan

Ryan Galloway: I think people are counting Brunson out in this main event fight with Edman Shahbazyan. Bruson is in the top of the division for a reason, his only losses have come to top of the food chain athletes and while Shahbazyan has displayed some impressive abilities it would be hard for me to pick against Brunson in this one. While I don’t see it being the most entertaining fight, I think Brunson’s wrestling ability will show and he will take this one to a decision victory.

Prediction: Derek Brunson

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.