After a blockbuster UFC 229, the UFC returns to action with a relatively low profile event called UFC Fight Night 138: Volkan vs Smith on October 27, 2018 at the Avenir Centre in New Brunswick, Canada.
As stated, the main event for this event is a light heavyweight showdown between #2nd ranked Volkan Oezdemir and #10 Anthony Smith. The co-main event was supposed to be a high profile showdown between featherweights Zubaira Tukhugov and Artem Lobov but after the infamous brawl at UFC 229, Tukhugov was pulled out and replaced by Michael Johnson.
Volkan Oezdemir vs Anthony Smith
5 round light heavyweight main event
Moneyline Odds: Oezdemir -180, Smith +155
Odds from betonline.ag as of 10/25/18
Volkan Oezdemir will attempt to bounce back from his loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 when he takes on Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Fight Night 138 on Saturday in Canada.
Oezdemir took the 205 division by storm with three straight wins over Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa. While his win over OSP was a close split decision victory, Oezdemir earned the nickname “No Time” by disposing of Cirkunov and Manuwa in a total combined time of 70 seconds. No time indeed. The victories earned Oezdemir a shot at DC’s belt but Cormier dominated Oezdemir in his first title fight, knocking out the Swiss MMA artist in two rounds. Volkan has a record of 15-2 with 11 knockouts and 1 submission.
Since Anthony Smith moved to the light heavyweight division, he is 2-0 with 2 knockouts. But that’s not the entire story. In those two bouts, Smith faced former champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and “Sugar” Rashad Evans. He stopped both ex-titlists in a combined 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Smith’s last six fights have ended in a knockouts and he’s emerged victorious in five. His only loss came against Thiago Santos just before he moved up in weight class. Smith has a record of 30-13 with 17 knockouts and 10 submissions. 10 of his 13 losses have been by knockout.
This marks the first time that Oezdemir is the favorite in the UFC. He went 3-1 as underdog in his first four UFC bouts. Likewise, this is the first time since moving up to light heavyweight that Smith is an underdog. In his first two bouts at 205 pounds, Smith was the favorite and he won both fight by knockout.
Volkan’s fastest knockout is 15 seconds against Benyaich Mohamed in 2013 while Smith himself has recorded a 22 second stoppage of Mike George in 2010. Given how aggressive these fighters are in going for the kill, I don’t expect this fight to go the distance. It may not even last a minute.
Prediction: Oezdemir -180
Although I’m picking Volkan to win, this fight could easily go the other way. When you have two knockout artists going at each other, both have a 50-50 chance. No question, Smith can knock out Oezdemir too. If you’re having a hard time picking who’s going to knock out who, then just bet on the knockout.
According to betonline.ag as of 10/25/18, the over/under round for this fight is set at 1.5 or the 2:30 mark of Round 2. The current odds for the under is -150 while the over is at +120. 12 of Oezdemir’s 15 knockouts have come in round one while 5 out of Smith’s last 8 knockouts have also come in the very first round. I think this won’t go past round one, maybe not even past the opening minute of the bout. With two knockout artists, you’ve got to like the under here.
The under (-150) is priced better than a Volkan win here (-180) here. Oezdemir has an 80% stoppage rate so I’m taking the under here.
Prediction: Under 1.5 -150
Michael Johnson vs Artem Lobov
3 round featherweight co-main event
Moneyline Odds: Johnson -650, Lobov +475
Odds from Betonline.ag as of 10/25/18
Michael Johnson looks to return to the rankings as he takes on Artem Lobov in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 138. Johnson took this fight on short notice after Khabib’s teammate Zubaira Tukhugov was removed this bout after his involvement in the UFC 229 brawl.
Artem Lobov has gone the distance in all his six UFC bouts but has won just two of them. The Russian Hammer has solid boxing fundamentals and is dangerous on his feet. But other than being McGregor’s buddy, this adopted Irishman doesn’t have much to offer. Lobov has mediocre offense and poor defense on the ground and on his feet. He’s tough as Russians are and given Johnson’s tendency to get lured in a brawl, Lobov may have a chance here. Lobov is 14-14-1 with 4 knockouts and 2 submissions. Although he has 14 losses, he’s been stopped just once in his career.
Lobov is a teammate of Conor McGregor and had Tukhugov not been pulled out, this would have been a more meaningful and interesting fight, with plenty on the line. But with the UFC deciding to remove Khabib’s teammate, the complexion of this fight has changed. Lobov and Tukhugov would have been a good match because both are mediocre fighters. Johnson may be on a tough spell right now but remember that his three of recent losses have come against Khabib, Nate Diaz and Justin Gaethje. Compared to Lobov, Johnson has plenty of experience. Johnson is also the better technical fighter than Lobov.
I don’t expect a knockout but Michael Johnson wins this.
Prediction: Michael Johnson -650
The over/under for the co-main event has been set at 2.5 rounds or the 2:30 mark of round 2. Johnson and Lobov have a combined 30 out of a total 50 fights going the distance, win or lose. And with neither possessing one punch knockout power here, I expect this fight to go the distance.
The odds for this fight going over 2.5 rounds is currently at -175 at betonline.ag. That’s a whole lot better than betting at Johnson’s moneyline of -650. I’m going with the over 2.5 here because I don’t think there will be a stoppage here either way.
Prediction: Over 2.5
Misha Cirkunov vs Patrick Cummins
3rd light heavyweight bout
Moneyline Odds: Cirkunov -450, Cummins +350
Odds from Betonline.ag as of 10/25/18
Two 205 pounders looking to barge into the Top 10 square off in the undercard of UFC Fight Night 138 as #11 Misha Cirkunov battles #14 Patrick Cummins.
Patrick Cummins is coming off a loss to Corey Anderson in a fight where he was taken down a total of 12 times (yes, that’s not a typo). Before that, Cummins had two close wins, a majority decision win over Jan Blachowicz and a split decision win over Gian Villante. Cummins is 10-5 with 4 knockouts and 2 submissions.
Cirkunov is a well-rounded fighter who has outstruck five out of his six UFC opponents. Cummins loves to push the pace and is always willing to stand and trade with his opponents, sometimes foolishly. He has decent grappling but tons of heart. However, this could very well go down to Cirkunov’s ground game as he averages 4.44 takedowns per 15 minutes. We talked about Cummins getting taken down 12 times by Anderson and if he hasn’t worked on his takedown defense since that loss, he’s in for a long night against Cirkunov who would be willing to grind him out to whatever victory is available.
Prediction: Cirkunov -450
The over/under for this fight is set at 1.5 or the 2:30 mark of round 2 and according to betonline.ag as of 10/25/18, the over 1.5 is at +100 while the under 1.5 is at -130. Many fancy Cirkunov to stop Cummins via ground TKO or submission and I agree. However, given Cummins’ heart, he’s not going down easily. I’m siding with the over 1.5 here as I’m expecting Cirkunov to win by third round stoppage or decision.
Prediction: Over 1.5