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Ronda Rousey protege Edmen Shahbazyan, 22, lost for the first time in his career on Saturday night inside the UFC Apex, hastening, for now at least, talk of the prodigious fighter being fast-tracked into world title contention.

Shahbazyan was badly hurt by a Brunson elbow towards the end of the second frame which prompted referee Herb Dean to call for timeout at the very beginning of the third to allow for a doctor to assess the situation. Shahbazyan pleaded to continue but the fight was stopped a matter of seconds later when he easily gave up a takedown and began taking unanswered punches.

For Brunson, the win was among the most important of a recent career resurgence which has seen him win three straight since switching camps but for Shahbazyan, he indicated that he is fine after the fight and that he intends to return refocused and ready to restart his run at middleweight gold.

“I’m OK everyone just need some stitches,” Shahbazyan wrote. “Thank you for all your messages, love you all!

“Congrats to Derek Brunson tonight, he did a great job. No excuses, it’s the fight game and I’ll be back! Blessed to have the support I have from everyone.”