- After a month on Fight Island, the Octagon is back in Las Vegas
- Highly-touted prospect Edmen Shahbazyan headlines his first UFC show
- See the odds, picks, and betting preview for the full UFC Vegas 5 main card below
The Octagon is back in the fight capital of the world this weekend with UFC Vegas 5 on Saturday, Aug. 1. The main card starts at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN+.
After a month on Fight Island, the promotion will call the UFC Apex home for the month of August. In the main event of UFC Vegas 5, Derek Brunson takes on undefeated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan. In the co-main event, Joanne Calderwood steps up on short notice to battle Jennifer Maia, with a title shot likely on the line for Calderwood.
The table below shows odds for the entire main card at two different sportsbooks, followed by best bets for the event.
UFC Vegas 5 Odds
|Fighter||FanDuel Odds||DraftKings Odds|
All odds as of July 27.
Is Shahbazyan the Real Deal?
Derek Brunson (20-7) is riding a two-fight winning streak. Last time out, he beat Ian Heinisch by decision at UFC 241 and, before that, beat Elias Theodorou by decision at UFC Ottawa.
Brunson is a perennial top-10 contender in the UFC and only loses to the elite of the division. His only setbacks inside the Octagon are to Israel Adesanya, Jacare Souza, Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero. He also has notable wins over Uriah Hall, Lyoto Machida, and Lorenz Larkin.
Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) is one of the top prospects in all of MMA and is 4-0 inside the Octagon. Last time out, he passed a very tough test in Brad Tavares with ease, scoring a first-round knockout. Before that, he submitted Jack Marshman in the first and TKO’d Charles Byrd in just 38 seconds. In his UFC debut, he beat Darren Stewart by split decision but since then has looked unbeatable. Ronda Rousey manages him, and Shahbazyan grew up as one of Rousey’s main training partners.
Bettors should note that, even though Brunson vs Shahbazyan is the main event, it will only be three rounds. The bout was only promoted to the main event last week. Irene Aldana and Holly Holm were expected to headline but Aldana tested positive for COVID-19.
This fight will really prove if all the hype behind the 22-year-old in Shahbazyan is real. As mentioned, Brunson has only lost to future champions and title contenders. If Shahbazyan beats him, the youngster could very well be two wins away from fighting for the belt.
So far in Shahbazyan’s UFC career, he has proven to be a dominant striker, but against Brunson, his takedown defense will be tested. The fact that Brunson has been knocked out before has to give the 22-year-old confidence. Yet, if he can’t stuff Brunson’s takedowns, it will be a long 15 minutes (or less) for him.
Ultimately, I believe Shahbazyan will be able to piece up Brunson early and stuff the takedown attempts. Once he does that, he’ll frustrate Brunson and eventually land a head kick that drops the veteran, followed by a ground-and-pound TKO in the first round. I am fully sold on the Shahbazyan hype and I believe he remains undefeated after Saturday night.
Pick: Edmen Shahbazyan (-307)
Brunson vs Shahbazyan Key Stats
Can Calderwood Keep Her Title Shot?
Joanne Calderwood (14-4) returned to the win column last time out with a decision victory over Andrea Lee. She was then expected to face Valentina Shevchenko this summer but the champion pulled out with an injury, so the 34-year-old decided to take another fight.
Jennifer Maia (17-6-1) is coming off a decision loss to Katlyn Chookagian last November to snap her two-fight winning streak, which featured wins over Roxanne Modafferi and Alexis Davis. The problem for the Brazilian is she has missed weight in her past two fights.
It was surprising that Calderwood stepped in on short notice. The expectation was that she would fight for the belt later this year. Yet, this is a favorable matchup for her: she is better everywhere and should be able to coast to a decision win, keeping her title shot in line.
Pick: Joanne Calderwood (-180)
Other UFC Vegas 5 Picks:
- Vicente Luque (-190): This should be a phenomenal fight between two strikers but Luque is just a tad better and has more power. He should earn a late TKO win.
- Bobby Green (+110): The two are rematching after they fought to a draw in 2017. Green is the better fighter and should do enough to get the decision win. He’s solid value at plus-money.
- Kevin Holland (-200): Holland is better everywhere and should be able to finish Giles here.
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