UFC Fight Night: Volkan vs. Smith Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Updated: Oct. 24, 2018 • 7:57 PM ET
Moncton, New Brunswick will host this weekend's UFC event.
The UFC is heading to Canada for a stop in Moncton, New Brunswick for UFC Fight Night on Saturday. The main event will feature a light heavyweight fight between a fighter trying to get a second shot at the title, and one of the busiest fighters in the UFC looking for a title shot of his own.
No. 2 ranked light heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir will take on No. 10 Anthony Smith with the winner making a serious case for being the next fighter to challenge for the light heavyweight title. The only question is: who will the light heavyweight champion be? Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier seems content fighting at heavyweight and will likely vacate the lighter title to the winner of the Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafson 2 fight at UFC 232 in December.
Oezdemir hasn’t fought since January at UFC 220, where he unsuccessfully challenged Cormier for the light heavyweight title. He was scheduled to fight Mauricio Rua in May, but was pulled from the fight due to visa issues, which restricted him from traveling to Chile. The event was rescheduled for July, but the UFC pulled Oezdemir from the fight in favor of a bout with Gustafson in at UFC 227 in August. However, a broken nose forced Oezdemir from that fight, leaving him in an inactive state.
Prior to the fight with Cormier, Oezdemir (15-2) was 3-0 in the UFC with wins over Jimi Manuwa, Misha Cirkunov and Ovince Saint Preux. If the 29-year-old can show up for fights, he could be in title contention for many years to come in an aging division. Ranked at No. 2, it’s reasonable to think that with a win on Saturday, Oezdemir would be the next in line for a title shot against whoever the champion is at the time.
Oezdemir would have the best shot at challenging Gustafson because as long as Jones or Cormier is champion, fans will clamor for a third fight between the two, thus making Oezdemir wait longer. Regardless of the wait, Oezdemir will have to get past a hungry opponent on Saturday.
Smith last fought in July, when he stepped in for Oezdemir to face Rua, winning in shocking fashion by first-round knockout. It was his second straight win and fifth in his last six fights, looking like a different fighter at light heavyweight after previously competing at middleweight.
Smith (30-13) has wins over Rua, Rashad Evans and Hector Lombard, but he also has a significant amount of experience for a 30-year-old fighter. He has fought in the UFC since 2011, most recently fighting Evans and Rua within the span of a month. He even attempted to fill in for Oezdemir against Gustafson.
Smith’s willingness to fight any time, anywhere has caught the attention of fans and made him a favorite. A win over a former title challenger and top 3 fighter would certainly make a great case for Smith being the next to challenge for the title.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a featherweight fight between Artem Lobov and Michael Johnson. Lobov was originally scheduled to face Zubaira Tukhugov, but the UFC pulled the Russian after his involvement in the post-fight brawl at UFC 229.
Lobov is riding two straight losses to Cub Swanson and Andre Fili, respectively. The 32-year-old made waves while competing in The Ultimate Fighter for Team McGregor, where he showed tremendous punching power for the division.
It has been no secret that Lobov and Conor McGregor are close friends and training partners. The now infamous bus attack at UFC 223 all stemmed from a confrontation between Lobov and Khabib Nurmagomedov the day before, resulting in McGregor vehemently and unprofessionally having his friend’s back. Chaos aside, Lobov is 2-4 in the UFC and in desperate need of a win. He’ll have no easy task fighting a veteran who has been a contender for many years.
Johnson made his way back into the win column after three straight losses with a split-decision victory over Fili in August. Having previously been a contender at lightweight, Johnson made his debut at featherweight in January, losing by second-round submission to Darren Elkins. He’ll step in on short notice this weekend, but a win over Lobov will likely send Johnson into the featherweight rankings.
Johnson has key victories over Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, Melvin Guillard, Joe Lauzon and Tony Ferguson. He has fought in the UFC since 2010, having been a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter season 12.
The rest of the main card
Light Heavyweight fight - No. 11 Misha Cirkunov vs. No. 14 Patrick Cummins
Bantamweight fight - Andre Soukhamthath vs. Jonathan Martinez
Light Heavyweight fight - Gian Villante vs. Ed Herman
Welterweight fight - Alex Garcia vs. Court McGee
Welterweight fight - Nordine Taleb vs. Sean Strickland
Lightweight fight - Thibault Gouti vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Featherweight fight - Calvin Kattar vs. Chris Fishgold
Women's bantamweight fight - Sarah Moras vs. Talita Bernardo
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Lightweight fight - Te Edwards vs. Don Madge
Heavyweight fight - Arjan Singh Bhullar vs. Marcelo Golm
Lightweight fight - Stevie Ray vs. Jessin Ayari
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