Ronda Rousey heaped praise on middleweight prospect Edmen Shahbazyan ahead of his upcoming fight.
Shahbazyan is one of the most exciting up and comers in the UFC with a 11-0 record and finishes in all but one of his career wins, having last knocked out Brad Tavares. He is currently set to face Derek Brunson in his first headliner at UFC Vegas 5 on August 1.
An impressive win over a perennial contender in Brunson would not further move Shahbazyan up the ranks, but possibly set him up against a potential top-five opponent in the middleweight division.
And for Rousey, who manages the 22-year-old as well as trained him with him in the past, Shahbazyan has always been a special talent.
“Little Eddie, he’s always been special. He’s always been called Neo. He’s the one,” Rousey said in a recent chat with UFC president Dana White (via BJ Penn). “He’s one of the first generation of kids who only did MMA. He was obsessed with MMA when I was training with the gym. He was actually like my throw-in dummy for my open workout (before the Liz Carmouche fight at UFC 157). He was 15 years old, he was like still like bigger than me. But like he was one of my training partners. He learned armbars by me. He got beat up by me.
“He was in the gym at a very pivotal time and he and his brother (Leon Shahbazyan) would just like show up with 10th Planet (Jiu-Jitsu) books and they were completely obsessed. I’ve never seen kids more obsessed with MMA and that was like the first generation of that. I came up in like judo and other things and MMA became a thing that everyone else had to adjust to when they were aways experts in something else.”
Based on his showings so far, the talent is there for all to see.
And if he keeps going at his current rate, Jon Jones may see his record of being the youngest UFC champion in history broken.
Do you think Shahbazyan will win this weekend? And what do you make of his future potential?