Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith will clash TONIGHT (Oct. 27, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 138 inside Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Both men will enter the Octagon tonight with a lot on the. Light Heavyweight is desperate for contenders, a situation which saw Oezdemir rushed to a title shot and currently places Smith on the fast track. It’s not hard to see why in either case: The two put on exciting fights and finish consistently. As a result, though, there are still some unknowns for each man. With a little luck, these two will deliver the fireworks, answer some questions, and figure out who moves closer to the title.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jimi Manuwa (UFC 214), Misha Cirkunov (UFC Fight Night 109), Ovince Saint Preux (UFC Fight Night 104)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 220), Kelly Anundson (Bellator 115)
Keys to Victory: A former professional kickboxer, Oezdemir has some seriously power and is reasonably technical as well. Inside the Octagon, Oezdemir’s fights have tended to end quickly, usually with his hand being raised.
He struggled with Cormier’s vaunted wrestling, but that won’t be a problem here.
Opposite Smith, I’d like to see Oezdemir maintain his range and make Smith come to him. Given the fact that he’s a similar size to Smith — something “Lionheart” is very unaccustomed to — it shouldn’t be all that hard to land from Smith’s kickboxing range and convince him to come forward.
Smith likes to slug, but Oezdemir hits absurdly hard and will likely be favored in a one-to-one trade of punches. More than that, though, Smith can leave himself wide open to counters by neglecting to feint. Oezdemir feints and boxes more smoothly than Smith, and it shouldn’t take many opportunities for a counter shot to make a big impact.
Key Wins: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 134), Rashad Evans (UFC 225), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 116), Andrew Sanchez (UFC on FOX 24), Tim Williams (CFFC 46, CFFC 50)
Key Losses: Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 125), Cezar Ferreira (TUF 23 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Smith is one of the sport’s most violent men, sporting a remarkable 28 finishes on his professional record. There’s great diversity in his finishes also: punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and a variety of submission are all represented.
This is definitely a dangerous fight for Smith, the first since his bout with Santos that is a true gunfight. Odds are, one of these men will fall relatively quickly, and Oezdemir is the historically heavier and more durable man.
With that in mind, what is Smith’s path to victory? In my opinion, Smith’s real advantage here is likely in conditioning and pace. Oezdemir slowed badly in both of his career losses, and “OSP” socked him up in the third round of one of his few fights to hit the scorecards.
In order to make use of that edge, Smith has to avoid the firefight. Since Oezdemir isn’t insanely aggressive or generally looking to brawl, a lot of that will come down to self-control. If Smith is maintaining a high output of jabs and kicks to the mid-section, he’ll be forcing Oezdemir to expend energy, but doing it far more safely than if he chases after the Swiss fighter with power punches.
Conclusion: Both fighters throw down and have something to prove.
Oezdemir has to bounce back from his first loss in the Octagon. Now, losing for the first time in a championship fight isn’t the worst fate — it means he was doing something right to get there. At the same time, Cormier did exactly what he wanted and made Oezdemir look a bit hapless. That’s a bigger problem, but it’s one Oezdemir can solve by stomping out a contender and getting back on track.
Smith has scored the three most major knockouts of his career in his last three wins (two at Light Heavyweight), but each of those men was very close to the end of his career. As such, it’s hard to say just how much Smith has improved, or where his place is at 205 lbs. Luckily, Oezdemir is a perfect opponent for “Lionheart” to prove his worth, a game fighter in the mix who is also in the prime of his career.
If Smith can replicate any of his recent success against a big step up in competition, he’ll be a contender before long.
At UFC Fight Night 138, Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith will go to war. Who will remain standing when the dust settles?