Magomed Ankalaev: Volkan Oezdemir ‘too slow’ for striking battle at UFC 267

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Magomed Ankalaev: Volkan Oezdemir ‘too slow’ for striking battle at UFC 267
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Magomed Ankalaev sees Volkan Oezdemir as a good next step as he climbs the light heavyweight rankings, but he doesn’t see it being a close fight.

On paper, the matchup between Ankalaev (15-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Oezdemir (17-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC 267 card, which streams on ESPN+ from Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, seems like a potentially thrilling matchup of strikers. Both men like to unleash on the feet, but who will land first?

Ankalaev is confident it’s going to be him. He thinks Oezdemir has some talent on the feet, however, thinks he lacks the necessary speed and technique to come out on the right end of the exchanges on fight day.

“I don’t consider him as the best striker,” Ankalaev told reporters through an interpreter at UFC 267 media day. “I know he has a lot of punching power, like one-punch knockout, but in a technical way he’s not the best striker for sure. … He hits really hard but I think he’s too slow. I don’t think his striking speed is enough for me. I think it shouldn’t be a problem.”

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Ankalaev is currently riding a six-fight UFC winning streak, which is longest among active fighters at 205 pounds. He fully intends to push it to seven, and hopefully join the discussion of the top title contenders.

It’s good timing for the Russian, too, because the UFC 267 main event sees champion Jan Blachowicz put the belt on the line against Glover Teixeira. Even if he gets a highlight-reel knockout of Oezdemir, a title shot is likely to elude Ankalaev a bit longer.

He said he’s OK with that, but is pleased to be performing on the same card where his weight class is being spotlighted.

“I would really like to fight for the title after this fight but it’s not up to me, it’s up to UFC. I would love to fight for the belt, but if not, I will just keep fighting.”

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