UFC on ESPN+ 31 will no longer be headlined by a pivotal women’s bantamweight bout.
The original main event between former champion Holly Holm and top contender Irene Aldana has been postponed to a later date. In its place, a middleweight showdown between Derek Brunson and undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan will serve as the Aug. 1 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It will remain a three-round fight despite being elevated to headliner status.
The news was announced Wednesday by UFC president Dana White while doing an Instagram live with Ronda Rousey, who manages Shahbazyan. White didn’t offer why the change was made, but a person with knowledge of the situation told MMA Junkie it was Aldana who withdrew for undisclosed reasons.
Shahbazyan (11-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is an unbeaten rising contender in the UFC’s 185-pound division. The 22-year-old fighter is coming off a head-kick knockout of Brad Tavares last November at UFC 244.
Meanwhile, Brunson (20-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC), a longtime contender in the division, is riding a two-fight winning streak. The 36-year-old last fought in August 2019 when he outpointed Ian Heinisch.
This marks the third time that Brunson vs. Shahbazyan has been booked after bookings in March and April fell through.
With the change, the current UFC on ESPN+ 31 lineup includes:
- Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan
- Markus Perez vs. Eric Spicely
- Trevin Giles vs. Jun Yong Park
- Ed Herman vs. Da Un Jung
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Jennifer Maia
- Randy Brown vs. Vicente Luque
- Jonathan Martinez vs. Frankie Saenz
- Ray Borg vs. Nathan Maness
- Chris Gutierrez vs. Luke Sanders