#2 Edmen Shahbazyan
When Edmen Shahbazyan debuted in the UFC in late 2018 coming off a quick knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series, a few cynical eyebrows were raised. Despite the fact that ‘The Golden Boy’ was just 21 years old at the time, the knowledge that he was trained by the infamous Edmond Tarverdyan caused some fans to write him off before his career with the promotion had even begun.
To say those cynics have now been proven wrong would be an understatement. Shahbazyan struggled in his Octagon debut, tiring out against Darren Stewart, and it was only the Englishman’s poor takedown defense that allowed ‘The Golden Boy’ to pick up the win. But since then he’s gone from strength to strength, destroying Charles Byrd and Jack Marshman before knocking out the ultra-tough Brad Tavares in the first round.
The fact that even Israel Adesanya had been unable to finish Tavares instantly brought a lot of spotlight onto Shahbazyan, and the Armenian-American now sits at #9 in the UFC Middleweight rankings despite being just 22 years old.
With the Middleweight division losing a handful of veteran contenders – Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza – in 2019, there’s definitely room for some young talent to move up the ladder, and Shahbazyan has to be at the front of that queue after his first four Octagon appearances. Expect big things from ‘The Golden Boy’ in 2020.