Another Contender Series veteran won big at the TUF 28 Finale, as Edman Shahbazyan earned a split decision in his UFC debut.
Friday night, Las Vegas played host to the TUF 28 Finale, where Darren Stewart and Edman Shahbazyan clashed as part of the main card. Stewart, after losing his debut in the UFC, entered the night riding a two-fight winning streak with his last win coming over Charles Byrd by TKO at UFC 228. Shahbazyan meanwhile was making his own debut in the UFC after going undefeated outside of the organization and defeating Antonio Jones on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
In action Friday, Stewart just missed on a leg kick and Shahbazyan fired back a combination. He’d be looking to make a good first impression, and did just that when he secured a take down a short time later. Stewart was quick to his feet but Shahbazyan stuck with him and secured his back against the cage. Shahbazyan landed knees to Stewart’s head that looked to have opened him up. Shahbazyan landed two more knees, keeping the pressure on, and continued to look for the take down. Stewart defended well and remained calm. Shahbazyan gave up the hold and the two engaged again in the center of the octagon, with Stewart just missing on a punch and Shahbazyan quickly getting the clinch. Shahbazyan shot the take down but Stewart defended. Swewart next landed a hard right that looked to have hurt Shahbazyan, and Stewart landed another elbow for good measure
Shahbazyan shot the take down early in the second, though Stewart was able to defend. Shahbazyan held on and tried a second time, this time securing the take down and the back of Stewart. Shahbazyan looked to land some knees on Stewart as he got back to his feet and maintained the clinch against the cage. Shahbazyan again went for the take down but Steward defended once more. Shahbazyan did well to maintain pressure on Stewart. Stewart tried to break free but Shahbazyan spun to his back and again looked for the take down. Stewart got the switch but Shahbazyan again dropped for the take down and secured it and his back. Shahbazyan worked in a hook and looked for the choke but Stewart fought it off. Shahbazyan got the body lock for a moment but gave it up and went back to riding Stewart’s back as he fired knees to the head of his opponent until the round came to an end.
Stewart came out and looked to press the action in the final round, but Shahbazyan dropped down and shot the take down, momentarily taking Stewart down. Back on their feet Stewart landed a hard elbow that hurt Shahbazyan; he shot again but Stewart defended and landed another hard strike. Shahbazyan dropped again for the take down and drove Stewart into the cage before landing the attempt. Stewart was quick to get back up to his feet and back to center but Shahbazyan again held on and walked him back into the cage before the ref broke it up. They clinched and Stewart got the trip and landed multiple punches on a very tired looking Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan made it to his feet for a moment before he shot the take down and brought Stewart to the canvas. Stewart made it back to his feet and again Shahbazyan held on and again he was able to secure another take down. Stewart was quick to work back to his feet but the horn sounded to end the round and the contest.
— UFC (@ufc) December 1, 2018
“Was it a good fight, do you think?” the victorious Shahbazyan asked Jimmy Smith after the bout. Told it was, he called for a Fight of the Night bonus.
Edmen Shahbazyan def. Darren Stewart by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)