The main event of the UFC’s Fight Night card at the Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick featured two light heavyweights looking to potentially secure a title shot when 2nd ranked former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir faced off against 10th ranked Anthony Smith.
Oezdemir started off strong, winning the first two rounds, but prior to the fight Smith had said that his aim was to get the fight into the later rounds and it worked out well for him as he secured a third round submission victory over his higher ranked opponent.
Following the win, Smith called for a title shot. The soon-to-be vacant light heavyweight title is scheduled to be contested in a rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on December 29 in Las Vegas.
Lobov falls to short notice opponent Johnson
Known for being Conor McGregor’s main training partner, Artem Lobov had a tough task when he fought late notice replacement Michael Johnson in Moncton.
Lobov told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he superficially chose Johnson from a list of prospective opponents presented by the UFC because Johnson was the toughest one.
In the fight, Johnson outlanded Lobov and was the more effective striker en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Lobov had hoped to face Zubaira Tukhugov, a training partner and friend of McGregor's most recent opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov, however Tukhugov was pulled from the matchup pending Nevada State Athletic Commission investigation stemming from the incident that followed UFC 229’s main event.
Tukhugov punched McGregor following his loss to Nurmagomedov during an ugly incident that is likely to result in a suspension.
The UFC has been non-committal regarding Tukhugov’s future with the promotion.
Canadians go 2-2 in Moncton
It was a mixed bag for Canadians competing at UFC Fight Night in Moncton.
Two of the most highly touted Canadian fighters in the higher weight classes bounced back from losses as Misha Cirkunov and Arjan Bhullar returned to the win column with victories over Patrick Cummins and Marcelo Golm respectively.
Cirkunov had been nearing a title shot prior to suffering back-to-back losses to Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira. Those losses compelled Cirkunov to move from Toronto to Las Vegas in search of better coaching and more seasoned training partners.
Bhullar, considered the UFC’s best Canadian heavyweight looked like his striking had evolved en route to a three round unanimous decision.
Attendance and Bonuses
UFC Fight Night at the Avenir Centre in Moncton drew 6,282 attendees with a gate of $691,957 (CAD)
Performance bonuses of $50,000 were awarded to Nasrat Haqparast and Thibault Gouti for their three round fight that resulted in a unanimous decision victory for Haqparast and to Smith and Don Madge for their submission and knockout victories respectively.
Rodriguez replaces Edgar for Denver main event
Yair Rodriguez has had something of a tumultuous year with the UFC.
Earlier this year, when Rodriguez called a report that he was going to face up and coming featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov “fake news”, UFC President Dana White said that Rodriguez was being released from the organization for refusing the fight.
A few months later, Rodriguez mended fences with the UFC and ultimately accepted a fight against Magomedsharipov at UFC 228 in Dallas.
However, Rodriguez was forced to withdraw from the fight due to injury.
Now Rodriguez returns to action for the first time since losing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 back in May of 2017 to replace his then-adversary Edgar in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Denver on November 10 against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.
Edgar hopes to return to action in early 2019 according to a report from Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
Jung is also coming off of a lengthy layoff, having last fought in February of 2017.
The Denver event will mark the UFC’s 25th anniversary.
Two big fights added to UFC 231
Canada's lone pay-per-view event of 2018 has added two more great fights to an already stacked UFC 231 card, which takes place on December 8 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
In a fight that many are speculating is being made in the event that a replacement is needed for the event's headlining featherweight title fight between champion Max Holloway and Brian Ortega, former Ortega opponent Renato Moicano will face Mirsad Bektic.
Moicano is coming off of back to back wins over Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson in 2018 following his third round loss to Ortega in July of 2017.
Bektic has two wins of his own in 2018 with victories over Godofredo Pepey and former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Bektic trains at Tri-Star Gym in Montreal and boasts an impressive 13-1 record.
Also added to the card is a welterweight fight between Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira and Gunnar Nelson.
Nelson, who frequently trains with Conor McGregor, has yet to fight in 2018 following a loss last year to Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Oliveira has two wins in 2018 over Carlo Pedersoli and former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.
The UFC 231 card is now set with 14 scheduled matchups.