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I don’t want to label this necessary as a crossroads fight, only because Volkan Oezdemir isn’t quite free falling down the rankings. However, it’s clearly a fight that the UFC is using Oezdemir as a gage to see if Magomed Ankalaev is ready for the top five of the division. It’s not an easy fight though for the Russian, as Oezdemir has proven to be a perennial top ten Light Heavyweight for the last four years. And despite the knockout defeat in his last go around, it was the first time in nine fights that Oezdemir was knocked down. Given he has fought some of the best Light Heavyweights, I’d say the Swissman has a solid chin.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Ankalaev. Despite being a solid striker, Ankalaev also has wrestling abilities in his back pocket. While Oezdemir has improved in his takedown defense since fighting Daniel Cormier, he still has been vulnerable to being taken down or controlled against the cage. Both of which I believe will be the difference in the fight, as Ankolaev takes home a decision victory.