Edmen Shahbazyan is facing off against Anthony Hernandez in the co-main event for UFC Fight Night betting on Saturday, May 20.
Shahbazyan snapped a three-fight skid last September and will look to make it back-to-back victories. That won’t be easy against Hernandez, who could propel himself into the middleweight rankings with a win on Saturday.
UFC odds opened with Hernandez as a -250 favorite with Shahbazyan coming back at +200.
Here are my best free Shahbazyan vs. Hernandez picks and predictions for May 20 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shahbazyan vs Hernandez fight odds
Shahbazyan vs Hernandez method of victory odds
|Method of Victory||Edmen Shahbazyan||Anthony Hernandez|
|To win by KO/TKO||+360||+550|
|To win by Points||+600||+260|
|To win by Submission||+1,300||+220|
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook on May 20, 2023.
Shahbazyan vs Hernandez picks
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Shahbazyan vs Hernandez betting preview
At one time, Edmen Shahbazyan was the brightest prospect in MMA earning the nickname "The Golden Boy" after beginning his UFC career with a 5-0 record — including four wins inside the first round.
That shine came off after losing three consecutive lopsided bouts to Derek Brunson, Jack Hermansson, and Nassourdine Imavov. After getting brutally finished by Imavov in the crucifix position in November 2021, Shahbazyan took more than a year off. He returned to the octagon last December in triumphant fashion, knocking out Dalcha Lungiambula in the second round to earn a Performance of the Night bonus.
Shahbazyan is still just 25 years old and is a high-end striker with fluid combinations and explosive power. However, he needs to improve his grappling and cardio if he wants to get back into the Top 10.
Anthony "Fluffy" Hernandez has won three fights in a row, most recently submitting Marc-André Barriault in the third round last September. That winning streak began with an incredible submission against former world BJJ world champion Rodolfo Vieira as a +300 underdog.
The former LFA middleweight champion is an elite grappler and while his striking needs work, he does an excellent job of backing opponents against the cage with his pressure.
Shahbazyan vs Hernandez tale of the tape
|Edmen Shahbazyan||Anthony Hernandez|
|185 lbs||Weight||185 lbs|
|74 inches||Reach||75 inches|
|12-3 (10 KOs)||Record||10-2 (1 KO)|
Shahbazyan vs Hernandez UFC prediction and best bet
Fight prediction: Hernandez
Fluffy's striking isn't near Shahbazyan's level, but it's more than good enough to set up his grappling. Shahbazyan was able to defend four takedowns versus Lungiambula, but Hernandez is a better offensive wrestler racking up 16 takedowns over his last two bouts.
We've seen Shahbazyan destroyed on the mat in recent bouts and until he starts to show massive improvements in his ground game, I can't trust him against a grappler like Hernandez.
The other biggest flaw in Shahbazyan's game is also a strength for Hernandez: cardio. Hernandez fights with relentless pressure and a seemingly limitless gas tank while Shahbazyan tends to fade. Expect Hernandez's grit to help him weather the storm in the early parts of the fight before his grappling and cardio lead to victory.
Prediction: Hernandez ML (-230 at DraftKings)
Fight best bet: Hernandez by submission
Hernandez might be a "mere" brown belt in BJJ but that doesn't capture how effective of an MMA grappler he is. Not only does he have powerful takedowns, but he has terrific top control and is very technical with his submissions techniques.
Hernandez was able to submit one of the top BJJ specialists in the world in Vieira and Shahbazyan won't put up anywhere near as much resistance. With seven of Fluffy's last nine wins coming by way of submission, I'm backing him to submit Shahbazyan at plus money.
That said, there is value in sprinkling a little on Shahbazyan to win inside the first round (+750 at FanDuel). Shahbazyan is a fast starter and even in defeats to Brunson and Hermansson, he had them wobbled in the opening round. Hernandez can be a bit hittable at times and has eaten some heavy shots against fighters that lacked "The Golden Boy's" power and killer instinct.
Pick: Hernandez by submission (+210 at FanDuel)