Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight hitters Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith went to war last night (Oct. 27, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 138 inside Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
It took just about a year for Oezdemir to burst onto the scene and earn a title shot, one that ended disastrously. Last night, Oezdemir returned to the cage for the first time since that defeat, looking to remind the division of his ridiculous knockout power. Of course, Smith doesn’t throw pillows himself — “Lionheart” entered with remarkable 27 finishes to his name, including two previous knockouts over former Light Heavyweight champions. Both men were looking to prove themselves worthy of a title shot, and neither intended this fight to see the judge’s scorecards.
Smith surprised just about everyone by opening the fight with a takedown attempt, though Oezdemir was able to defend. Oezdemir broke away and noticed Smith’s back to the fence, prompting him to attack with a hard combination of clubbing blows. Smith kept his hands high, but some of the shots did slip through. Back in the center, Smith tried to maintain his range with an active lead hand and kicking game. Whenever Oezdemir closed in, he would fire an overhand and flurry with more hooks. In addition, Oezdemir was chopping at his opponent’s lead leg with consistent success.
Smith wasn’t out of the fight, but Oezdemir controlled the first round and did some good damage.
Oezdemir committed further to the low kick to open the second, digging into the inside and outside of Smith’s leg. To answer, Smith began to flurry rather than work the outside game, and it seemed to work better for him. Suddenly, Oezdemir pressured a body lock from the clinch to land the first takedown of his UFC career. Smith attempted a leg lock, which allowed Oezdemir to move toward the turtle. From that position, Oezdemir hung out for a while, hammering Smith with the occasional shot, but mostly controlling his opponent with the two-on-one ride.
It was another clear-cut round for the Swiss athlete.
Both men were a bit slower in the third round. Smith took more hard low kicks, but he hung in there well and responded with some seriously hard right hands. The fight moved into the clinch, where Smith attacked with elbows and knees, while Oezdemir clubbed the skull with overhands and uppercuts. With two minutes remaining, Smith landed his first takedown of the fight and immediately jumped into back mount. It didn’t take long for Smith to slip his arm under the neck and after some adjustment, he forced Oezdemir to submit (watch highlights here).
Smith lost a majority of the fight before finishing his foe in the third, and to be frank, I don’t think that’s entirely by accident. Oezdemir finishes almost all of his stoppages in the first round, whereas Smith carries his power and finishing ability late. In addition, Oezdemir has been choked out late before and tends to give up his back when trying to scramble back to his feet.
Smith dragged out the fight and waited for his moment.
On the whole, Smith did a nice job of avoiding getting bombed early. Whenever Oezdemir really let loose a stream of power shots, Smith covered up tight and waited for the barrage to subside. The low kicks definitely hurt, but winning a fight via low kicks is the method of a patient strategist, and that’s not Oezdemir.
That might be a fair descriptor of Smith though, who’s your newest Light Heavyweight contender.
As for Oezdemir, this was both a promising showing and something of a disaster. On the positive side, I liked that Oezdemir was willing to kick more often and even worked a takedown. Those kicks were nasty, and they forced Smith to abandon his counter focused strategy. On the whole, Oezdemir was a lot more patient this time around, which will help in the future. However, Oezdemir also showed his inexperience. At times, he would back Smith into the fence and seem out of ideas, throwing the same few combinations without much variation. Beyond that, Oezdemir gave up his back and the submission far too easily — two his three losses are rear-naked chokes, and Cormier very nearly finished him with the hold, too!
Last night, Anthony Smith outlasted his opponent to land rear-naked choke. Who should Smith face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 138: “Oezdemir vs. Smith” results and play-by-play, click HERE!