Anthony Smith has a simple request for Volkan Oezdemir.

When they arrive in Moncton next month to headline the UFC’s debut in the New Brunswick city, Smith just need Oezdemir to come with his A-Game. Or at least, he needs Oezdemir to look like he’s at his very best.

Smith’s reasoning is simple. He has spent the past two years trucking through whatever opponent the UFC has put in front of him — he has gone 5-1 over the past 21 months — but has found credit hard to come by.

A win against Oezdemir, who challenged for the light-heavyweight title earlier this year, and nobody’s going to be able to deny that Smith is one of the 205-pound division’s elite fighters.

“I need Volkan to show up and I need him to show up prepared and uninjured and bring his best product,” Smith said this week from Moncton, where tickets were set to go on sale for the Oct. 27 show. “If he doesn’t, or even looks like he doesn’t, it’s not going to be about Anthony Smith beating Volkan Oezdemir, it’s going to be about how (Oezdemir) never deserved to be in the top-5 or was never really that good.

“It’s never been about how good I am, it’s always been about how bad my opponents are.”

Smith isn’t necessarily complaining, he’s just aware of the way his recent wins have been perceived.

In June, the 30-year-old knocked out Rashad Evans in the first round of their fight at UF 225.

Less than a month and a half later, he did the same thing to Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.

While the wins helped grow Smith’s profile and bumped him into the top-10 in the light-heavyweight rankings, a lot of the conversation surrounding both of his wins focused more on how his opponents were over-the-hill.

He noticed, and that’s why he needs to beat a version of Oezdemir who looks like he’s at 100%.

“It’s very frustrating,” Smith said. “If you go back and look at all the comments in the lead-up to the Shogun fight, I didn’t have a chance, you’d think it was my first day.

“Then, afterwards, it’s about how old Shogun is and how he’s past his prime or whatever, when the day before people were saying that if Shogun got the win he was getting the next title shot.”

By no stretch of the imagination is it guaranteed that Smith would get a shot at the 205-pound crown if he beats Oezdemir, but the current state of the light-heavyweight division is such that it’s entirely possible.

Daniel Cormier, the champion, is also the heavyweight king, and there’s no indication that he’s going to defend the light-heavyweight belt before he takes on Brock Lesnar next year — and promptly retires.

Jon Jones was the champ before getting stripped of his title for failing a drug test, and there’s nothing to suggest he’s returning to the octagon anytime soon.

Other than that, there is no clear No. 1 contender.

Oezdemir is in the mix — sort of — although his loss to Cormier in January means he has some work to do before he gets another shot.

But if Smith can beat a guy who is generally regarded as one of the best in the world at his weight class, he’s got a strong case for deserving a chance at being champion.

He just need Oezdemir to show up.


After a couple months where fans have rightfully wondered why the UFC has been so silent in promoting its blockbuster lightweight title fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, it appears that things are about to get a whole lot louder.

On Sept. 20, the UFC will be holding a press conference at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, with both Nurmagomedov and McGregor scheduled to attend.

The event will be media-only but will be livestreamed online, and it’s taking place only minutes from the spot where McGregor threw a metal dolly through a bus window earlier this year in an effort to attack Nurmagomedov.

That set the two on a crash course to the octagon, where they’ll meet in the headliner of UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Oct. 6.

UFC president Dana White has confidently predicted that the fight is going to smash his promotion’s pay-per-view sales record, but the athletes have yet to appear in the same room together, so the hype machine has yet to really kick into gear.

It looks like that will finally happen next week.


While McGregor’s bus attack has been a focal point of the UFC’s advertising campaign for next month’s fight so far, there continue to be repercussions for the Irishman.

On Tuesday, fellow UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa filed a lawsuit against McGregor, alleging that former champion attacked him and caused “serious personal, economic and other injury,” according to multiple reports.

Video of the incident appeared to show that Chiesa had been cut by broken glass, and he was pulled from the UFC 223 card, where he was scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis.


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