Hoover’s “Golden Boy”

Hoover graduate Edmen Shahbazyan has gone from competing as a Tornado to shining under the lights in the UFC.

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By Katherine Nalchajyan, Staff Writer

Imagine this: High school is coming to an end and you watch your cap go flying high into the clear blue sky as parents film teary-eyed and then, you’re in an octagon facing Derek Brunson, bloody and bruised.

That was the case for Edmen Shahbazyan. One moment he was graduating from Hoover High school and the next thing he knew, he was a pro mixed martial arts fighter.

The story begins with 10-year-old Shahbazyan and his older brother, Leon, joining Glendale Fighting Club hoping to get physically built and through time, falling in love with the sport. 

“We joined the gym together. I was 12 and he was 10 so ever since then we’ve been partners,” Leon Shahbazyan said. “We’ve been working with each other and learning from each other, every week, every day, we help each other out, and we just want the best for each other.”

Since then, the brothers have been training at Glendale Fighting Club under trainer Edmond Tarverdyan.

Shahbazyan — who has been nicknamed “The Golden Boy” — trains at 6 AM and again at noon every Tuesday and Thursday. If you go to Glendale Fighting Club you can see Edmen training, sweaty and tired, yet he’s still pouring all his effort into his training even if he’s been at it since the sun rose in the morning. 

“Edmens an athlete – he’s a great student – great athlete of course, but he’s always here you know, on time, giving his 100% effort, training hard, and that’s what I see what an athlete needs to know.” said Edmond Tarverdyan.

Not only does Tarverdyan train Shahbazyan, but he also trained one of the most famous female UFC fighters of all time, Ronda Rousey. Now Rousey no longer trains with Tarverdyan, but during the time she did, Shahbazyan would often be her workout partner.

Crowds of people would often come to see Rousey practice, barely glimpsing at young Shahbazyan who would be facing Rousey in the octagon. Flashing lights, cameras snapping pictures, shouts of encouraging words came from the crowd, yet they were all directed toward Rousey. 

Although Shahbazyan was never the center of attention during his training with Rousey, he did learn many invaluable lessons which have helped him move forward in his career.

Shahbazyan first attended Glendale High but transferred to Hoover for his last two years due to the wrestling program. 

“Edmen was a polite and friendly young man that loved to compete,” stated David Beard, Shahbazyan’s wrestling coach at Hoover. “He had great confidence in his abilities and believed that when you lost you learned and got better.” 

While at Hoover, Shahbazyan shined as a student and as an athlete. In his senior season in 2015, he advanced all the way to the CIF State Wrestling Championships.

After graduating, Shahbazyan continued to practice with Rousey until he got his own professional debut in February 2017. Ever since then he has been competing in the middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. 

His first ever match in the UFC was up against Darren Stewart in November 2018. He has had four fights since then against Charles Byrd, Jack Marshman, Brad Tavares, and Brunso, all of whom he has defeated, except for the latter. His professional career started out with 11 consecutive wins.

Shahbazyan’s latest fight against Brunson was scheduled to be in March but due to many setbacks, did not happen until August 1. That’s when Shahbazyan suffered his first defeat via technical knockout. 

Shahbazyan ended up getting some stitches at the hospital but no other major injuries. After that match, not only did he drop down to #11 in rankings but he also lost his Reebok sponsor money after carrying a flag of the Republic of Artsakh during the walkout..

In recent days Shahbazyan is seen training at Glendale Fighting Club, waiting for the day he can get back into the ring and get back his winning streak.

“As a fighter that match taught me a lot and it was a good learning experience for me.” said Shahbazyan. “Now I’m back in the gym, improving eve