Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (15-2-0) is set to face Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (18-4-0) at UFC 227 in Los Angeles.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto first reported the news earlier this evening, citing multiple sources who have confirmed that the two fighters have both verbally agreed to the match up on August 4th.
Oezdemir was initially booked to face MMA legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in Hamburg on July 22nd. It appears that the UFC’s desire to keep Gustafsson on the UFC 227 card outweighed the risk in trying to find a viable opponent for Shogun, just three weeks before the Hamburg event.
It is no secret that the UFC have struggled to find an appropriate opponent for Gustafsson at UFC 227. The original plan was to have The Mauler face Luke Rockhold, in what would have been Rockhold’s light heavyweight debut. That fight fell apart before it was officially announced when the former middleweight champion succumbed to injury. With a lack of available options at the top end of the 205lb division, it seems the UFC have chosen to gamble with their fight night card in Germany in order to put together one of the few light heavyweight bouts which would make sense.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Shogun and the UFC Hamburg card but it would appear that Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (29-13-0) is the early front runner to face the former champion following his decisive KO finish of another former champ, Rashad Evans, at UFC 225 last month.