UFC on ESPN+ 31: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan Predictions

UFC on ESPN+ 31 will take place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Initially, the main event was supposed to feature Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana, but Aldana ended up testing positive for COVID-19, so the fight had to be cancelled last Wednesday.

Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan will now headline the UFC on ESPN+ 31 fight card.

I kept things simple last Saturday and I ended up going 3-1 (+2 units). Whittaker, Rua and Oliveira all won straight-up on the moneyline, although the fights were closer than I expected.

Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan Picks

Fight Odds: Shahbazyan (-310) vs. Brunson (+250)

Shahbazyan (11-0) is 4-0 in the UFC and ten of his fights have ended by stoppage (9 TKO/KO wins).

The 22-year-old is fighting 36-year-old Brunson (20-7). After being knocked out twice in 2018 (Souza and Adesanya), Brunson changed his fighting style and has reeled off two decision wins.

He has defeated Theodorou and Heinisch, but now he’s in trouble. Shahbazyan is an MMA prodigy and while this is his biggest test, it’s a good match-up for him on paper.

Brunson has been knocked out five times in his career and four of those were in the first round.

He has struggled his entire career against top middleweights. Shahbazyan still has a lot to prove, but he has incredible power, great wrestling (6.77 takedowns per 15 minutes) and he only needs to land one shot to end this fight. It just might take a round or two to land that big shot.

Brunson has been a lot more cautious in the cage in his last two fights and it has worked. While a lot of people are predicting a first round TKO/KO, I predict it’ll take until the second round.


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Best Bet: Edmen Shahbazyan by TKO/KO (-120)

Joanne Calderwood vs. Jennifer Maia Picks

Fight Odds: Calderwood (-185) vs. Maia (+155)

This fight should go the distance, but at –320 odds, I’m not interested in betting on that.

Calderwood (14-4) is 6-4 since joining the UFC in 2014. In 2019, she went 2-1 with wins against Lee and Lipski. Her loss was against Chookagian. All three fights went to the judges’ scorecards.

Maia is 2-2 in the UFC with wins against Davis and Modafferi. She also has a loss to Chookagian.

Despite the lack of UFC experience, she has plenty of MMA experience. When Calderwood started fighting pro in 2012, Maia already had six pro fights. Back in 2012, Maia defeated Jessica Andrade.

Maia is a BJJ black belt and she can win this fight by taking it to the mat. Calderwood has also been tapped out twice in her career, so Maia could even earn a stoppage victory.

Best Bet: Jennifer Maia ML (+155) at America’s Bookie

Vincente Luque vs. Randy Brown Picks

Fight Odds: Luque (-185) vs. Brown (+155)

I’m surprised Luque (18-7-1) isn’t a bigger favorite here. Brown (12-3) is 6-3 in the UFC since 2016, but he has some weak losses. He was knocked out by Price in 2018 and lost to Muhammad in 2017.

Luque has two wins against Price (R2 Submission in 2017 and R3 TKO in May). He also knocked out Muhammad in the opening round in 2016. Based on common opponents alone, Luque has an edge.

Brown is outmatched in this fight on his feet and on the mat.

Luque is a strong grappler and he has a cement chin (never been knocked out).

My money is on Luque. I’ll stick to the ML here, but I predict he’ll win by stoppage. This fight could end really early, but stick to Luque ITD, as he could win by TKO/KO or submission.

Best Bet: Vincente Luque ML (-185) at America’s Bookie

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Ed Herman Picks

Fight Odds: Meerschaert (-185) vs. Herman (+155)

My last UFC on ESPN+ 31 pick is on Herman (25-14-0-1) against Meerschaert (31-13). These two vets have tons of UFC experience, but neither have ever been able to win the big fights.

Since 2018, Meerschaert is just 3-4 with losses to Heinisch, Anders, Holland and Hermansson.

Herman went 2-0 in 2019 with wins against Cummins (TKO) and Ibragimov.

Meerschaert is always a threat to tap his opponent out – he has 23 submission wins. He has six wins in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2016 and all have been by stoppage (5 by Submission).

Best Bet: Ed Herman ML (+155) at America’s Bookie

UFC on ESPN+ 31 Betting Lines

Edmen Shahbazyan (-310) vs. Derek Brunson (+250)

Joanne Calderwood (-185) vs. Jennifer Maia (+155)

Vincente Luque (-185) vs. Randy Brown (+155)

Lando Vannata (-145) vs. Bobby Green (+115)

Kevin Holland (-215) vs. Trevin Giles (+170)

Jonathan Martinez (-215) vs. Frankie Saenz (+170)

Gerald Meerschaert (-185) vs. Ed Herman (+155)

Ray Borg (-230) vs. Nathan Maness (+180)

Markus Perez (-195) vs. Eric Spicely (+165)

Timur Valiev (-170) vs. Jamall Emmers (+145)

Chris Gutierrez (-315) vs. Cody Durden (+255)

About the Author

Scott is one of our newest writer and handicapper here at ScoresAndStats.com, but he has been writing sports betting content for more than a decade online. His work has been featured on many websites.


Scott is a millennial (born in 1989) who grew up in Toronto, Canada and he has never left the big city. He grew up playing a few sports (hockey, soccer and baseball) when he was younger. His favorite sport was hockey and he played goalie. He still likes to get out to the rinks to play some pick-up with his buddies.


Growing up in Toronto, Scott is a huge fan of all Toronto teams.


He watches the Maple Leafs and Raptors religiously. Scott also enjoys watching the Blue Jays, Argonauts and TFC.


His best sports memory was when the Raptors were crowned the 2019 NBA Champions. Unfortunately, he’s still waiting for the Maple Leafs to win a Stanley Cup during his lifetime.


Scott may be a diehard fan of Toronto sports teams, but he loves watching all sports. He’s a huge UFC fan (look for his UFC betting articles for most events) and he’ll watch just about anything, including tennis, golf, soccer and cricket.


Scott is a numbers guy and he likes digging deep into the statistics when handicapping games. He also likes to identify value bets in markets most bettors overlook, including player/team props.


When he’s not handicapping and watching sports, he enjoys golfing in the warmer months. He also loves burgers and poutine. Not only is that his favorite meal, but he has tried over 100 burgers in Toronto and he’s constantly looking for the best new burgers in the city.