October 25, 2018

UFC Fight Night 138: Winner of Oezdemir vs. Smith At UFC Moncton Could Be Next In Line For A Title Shot

By Adam Martin

An important light heavyweight matchup takes place this weekend at the UFC's debut in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. With Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson fighting at UFC 232 for the title that will soon be vacated by dual champion Daniel Cormier, there could be an opening available for a new #1 contender to emerge. That's where the UFC Moncton main event comes into play, as the winner of the bout between knockout artists Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith could very well find himself next in line for a title shot at 205 lbs.

In Jones' absence, the UFC's light heavyweight division lost a lot of steam over the last few years. Fortunately, the UFC had Cormier as an active champion, but no one at 205 lbs has the star power Jones has, so the division became a lot less interesting. Now all of a sudden Jones is on track for an end-of-year return against Gustafsson in a rematch of one of the greatest MMA fights of all time, and the division seems to be exciting again.

I recently wrote about the promotion having a number of exciting light heavyweight prospects emerging, and coupled with Jones' return against Gustafsson, the 205-pound division all of a sudden has a ton of momentum, even despite Cormier's plans to remain at heavyweight and relinquish his belt. It's also worth mentioning the emergence of several veterans in the division, like Jan Blachowicz and Corey Anderson, to name a few. If Ryan Bader, who is tearing it up right now in Bellator, was also on the roster, 205 would be looking pretty stacked right now. But even without Bader, the weight class is as interesting as it's been in years.

And one of the most interesting fights coming up is the battle between Oezdemir and Smith this weekend. This is a great matchup between two guys known for knocking their opponents out in devastating fashion, and we all know fans love a big knockout. So if the winner of this bout can get the job done in impressive fashion, he will be on the right track for a light heavyweight title shot in early 2019. With their combined 19 career knockout wins, and with their respective knockout histories pasted all over the poster by the UFC, it's clear the promotion is hoping someone scores a fantastic victory and separates himself from the pack at 205 lbs.

Oezdemir has been really impressive in the Octagon, going 3-1 overall, with wins over Misha Cirkunov, Jimi Manuwa, and Ovince Saint-Preux, and his only loss coming against Cormier. Smith, meanwhile, recently moved up to 205 lbs and picked up knockout wins over Rashad Evans and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. So both guys have been on a roll, and either would be more than deserving of a title shot with a win over the other at UFC Fight Night 138.

In a division that needs fresh title contenders for Jones and Gustafsson, now that they're finally back and hopefully back on a regular fight schedule, the winner of Volkan Oezdemir vs. Anthony Smith is going to be right there in regards to a title shot. But it will take an impressive win to truly put him over the edge. This makes this weekend's fight truly a must-watch affair.

UFC Fight Night 138: Volkan vs. Smith takes place October 27, 2018 at SMG Moncton in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Click HERE for more UFC Fight Night 138 Pre-Fight Analysis

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