UFC Fight Night: Santos v Walker
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Johnny Walker vs. Volkan Oezdemir will go to war this weekend (Sat., June 22, 2024) at UFC Saudi Arabia inside Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

How has this fight not happened yet?

Walker and Oezdemir have been hanging around the 205-pound rankings for a long while now, fighting several of the same opponents and landing at similar spots in the rankings. Walker enters this contest following a failed rivalry with Magomed Ankalaev, whereas Oezdemir has won two of his last three but only fought once last year. It’s a battle of fringe contenders hoping to keep their title dreams alive, and it feels like there’s a solid chance for a vicious stoppage one way or another.

Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds and strategic keys for each athlete:

UFC Fight Night: Oezdemir v Guskov

Walker Vs. Oezdemir Betting Odds

  • Johnny Walker victory: -120
  • Johnny Walker via TKO/KO/DQ: TBD
  • Johnny Walker via submission: TBD
  • Johnny Walker via decision: TBD
  • Volkan Oezdemir victory: +100
  • Volkan Oezdemir via TKO/KO/DQ: TBD
  • Volkan Oezdemir via submission: TBD
  • Volkan Oezdemir via decision: TBD
  • Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
UFC Fight Night: Ankalaev v Walker 2

How Walker Wins

Walker is now halfway between wild man and would-be technician. Walker has scored several of his best wins through chaotic jump knees and spinning strikes, but his recent reinvention has seen a more patient Walker trying to use his long range kicking to control the pace of fights. It makes sense for a 6’5” fighter to try to maximize his range, but Walker isn’t yet a finished product in that regard.

In this fight, however, all the way out as a strategy makes sense. Oezdemir has bricks in his fists, and he’s the more historically durable fighter between the two. If Walker were to walk into the middle of the Octagon and trade right hands with “No Time,” I doubt it ends well for the Brazilian.

Movement and long kicking feels like the better strategy. I’d also like to see Walker hunting for the occasional reactive takedown if Oezdemir swings particularly wild. Walker is significantly better on the canvas, and he’ll have a size advantage that should make wrestling a more accessible option.

One takedown could drastically change the fight.

UFC Fight Night: Oezdemir v Guskov

How Oezdemir Wins

It’s been a while since Oezdemir knocked out anyone, but make no mistake, “No Time” can crack! He’s got sneaky power, as his early UFC career was marked by a string of close quarter knockouts. The Swiss veteran is a former professional kickboxer as well, capable of putting together crisp combinations.

Range is obviously the big issue here, as Oezdemir faces a significant height and reach disadvantage. Fortunately, he has 15 minutes to find the chin, so he can afford a few minutes stuck at distance if the bout ends when he does land clean.

To close distance, Oezdemir has to really focus on cutting the cage and getting Walker’s back to the fence. Lately, Walker really likes to circle side-to-side while firing front kicks and calf kicks. Ideally, Oezdemir will be stepping forward with checks or looking to parry those front kicks, allowing him to close distance will Walker is between stances and start his own combinations.

In addition, pushing into the clinch could be a viable path for Oezdemir as well. He’s created big collisions from there before, and Walker’s own willingness to fight in the clinch — see his knockout win over Khalil Rountree — could produce opportunity.

UFC Fight Night: Oezdemir v Guskov

Walker Vs. Oezdemir Prediction

It’s difficult to have too much confidence here. Walker is famously inconsistent, physically talented but without a real process. Oezdemir, conversely, hits tremendously hard, but we’ve seen him outpointed and outwrestled on several occasions.

At this stage of their respective careers, I lean Oezdemir. He’s a difficult man to finish, and Walker’s more tactical approach to striking decreases the odds of the Brazilian simply sparking Oezdemir with a wild shot early on. Even if Oezdemir is losing exchanges, it feels likely that he eventually gets close to Walker and creates a big connection.

I have little confidence that Walker can survive such a blow.

Prediction: Oezdemir victory (+100)

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Saudi Arabia fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ABC/ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Saudi Arabia: “Whittaker vs. Aliskerov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Author: Staff

Please go to MMAMania.com to read full article.

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