Since Jon Jones has returned to the light heavyweight picture, the division has seen an emergence of contenders. It’s a breath of fresh air since in the last few years we have seen only a few of the same title challengers. Daniel Cormier seems to be done with the division, focusing on ending his career at heavyweight. After that, Jones has his work cut out for him. Up next for Jones could very well be Thiago Santos, who has made waves in the division after moving up from middleweight. Alexander Gustafsson will be fighting recent challenger Anthony Smith in the summer. Corey Anderson is also on a win streak and awaiting what’s next for him. Then there’s the dark horse, Dominick ‘The Devastator’ Reyes who will face former title challenger Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir this weekend. If Reyes can keep his win streak going, we could very well see him next in line for a shot at the champ.
Volkan Oezdemir seems like he came out of nowhere when he was picked up by the UFC. A former kickboxer and Bellator fighter, Volkan made his debut in 2017 and won a split decision against former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux. In his next fight, he stopped the hype train and 8-fight win streak of Misha Cirkunov and then dropped title contender Jimi Manuwa. Both of those fights ended in under a minute, which explains the nickname ‘No Time’. Since then, Volkan has dropped two straight – to then champion Daniel Cormier and most recently Anthony Smith. Now on the first losing streak of his career, Volkan is in a must-win situation as the light heavyweight picture is heating up.
It’s hard to believe that Dominick Reyes debuted back in 2017 when he seems like a fresh addition to the light heavyweight title picture. The 29-year-old Reyes is undefeated at 10-0 and had one bout in LFA before signing with the UFC. Reyes finished Joachim Christensen, Jeremy Kimball, Jared Cannonier and had a near-finish on former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux back in October. Reyes is excited for the ‘brawler vs. kind-of-boxer’ matchup this weekend and is ready to show the division that it’s ‘his turn’.
UFC Fight Night: Till Vs. Masvidal streams live on ESPN+ with the main card starting at 4:00PM ET/1:00PM PT.
“Don’t Sleep on This” is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).
This weekend the UFC is back after the drama that unfolded 3 weeks ago at UFC 229. This is the promotion’s first time in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, and the fans there will get to see a main event involving two of the UFC‘s heaviest hitters. Former title challenger and #2 ranked Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir will take on former middleweight and #10 ranked Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith.
Anthony Smith is a journeyman. With over 40 professional fights to his name, including bouts with promotions Strikeforce, Bellator, CFFC, RFA and others, Smith’s first stint with the UFC only lasted one fight. Smith found his way back to the UFC after going on 7-fight win streak and finishing 6 of those 7 opponents. Since returning, Smith has gone 6-2 with 5 finishes, taking out Ultimate Fighter winner Andrew Sanchez (which was a great comeback fight), former Bellator champ Hector Lombard and former champions and future HOF’ers Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua. Smith’s two fights at light heavyweight ended in the first round, and were devastating knockouts.
Volkan Oezdemir seems like he came out of nowhere when he was picked up by the UFC. A former kickboxer and Bellator fighter, Volkan made his debut last year and won a split decision against former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux. In his next fight, he stopped the hype train and 8-fight win streak of Misha Cirkunov and then dropped title contender Jimi Manuwa. Both of those fights ended in under a minute, which explains the nickname ‘No Time’. In January, Volkan challenged the champion Daniel Cormier, but was stopped in the 2nd round.
If you’re a betting man, count on this fight not making it to a second round. Smith has been more active, this will be his fourth fight this year and third fight in the last five months, while Volkan is nine months removed from his last fight due to Visa issues. Will ‘Lionheart’ keep his body count going or will Volkan finish him in ‘No Time’? Don’t blink.
UFC Moncton begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 2 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card on Fox Sports 1 @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.