MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: Shogun/Smith, Gustafsson/Oezedemir New Matchups
The UFC has broken apart one main event fight to make two new bouts, and I'll give my thoughts on both of them in today's MMA odds and ends.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Anthony Smith, UFC Fight Night 134
The UFC pulled Volkan Oezdemir from his main event bout at UFC Fight Night 134 against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and in on short notice steps in Anthony Smith. Ariel Helwani of ESPN.com reported the matchup. The card takes place Sunday, July 22 at Barclayyard Arena in Hamburg, Germany, and "Shogun" vs. Smith is set for five rounds. Rua (25-10) is now 36 but he has been fighting at a high level as of late with three-straight wins over Gian Villante, Corey Anderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. However, he hasn't fought in over a year and as an aging fighter that likely won't help him here. "Shogun" is an absolute legend of the game, but at some point he has to fade. Smith (29-13) is coming off of a devastating KO win over Rashad Evans in his UFC light heavyweight debut. He has won four of his last five fights via knockout, with his lone loss coming against Thiago Santos in a middleweight matchup. At 29, Smith is in the prime of his career and is poised to make a run for the light heavyweight top-10. He looks like he's stronger and more durable up a weight class and he has the "it" factor that could potentially make him a star at his new weight class in the Octagon. Even though Smith is taking this fight on short notice and "Shogun" is a step up over Evans, I still have to side with Smith in this fight. He's younger than Rua, fresher, and at this point of time the better fighter in my opinion. I expect Smith to be a slight favorite here.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Volkan Oezdemir, UFC 227
With Oezdemir being pulled from UFC Hamburg, the UFC immediately shifted him to a fight against fellow top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson. The two will meet at UFC 227, which goes down Saturday, August 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reported the fight. Gustafsson (18-4) is coming off of back-to-back wins over Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowivz. He is 31 now so he's in his prime still and even though he hasn't fought in over a year he remains one of the top contenders at 205lbs. Oezdemir (15-2) won his first three fights in the UFC before falling via TKO to Daniel Cormier in his last outing earlier this year. Despite the loss, Oezdemir is still highly ranked at 205lbs and at only 28 he remains one of the younger fighters in the top-10 of the light heavyweight division. Although Oezdemir has been pretty successful in the UFC and Gustafsson is coming off of a layoff, I still like Gustafsson to win this fight. I still believe he has what it takes to make another run for the light heavyweight title, and I would give him the edge in this particular matchup.
About the Author
Mixed martial arts journalist. Lead writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com and also featured at @MMARatingsNet, @mmanews_com and @fightodds_io.
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