Manuwa-Oezdemir Set for UFC 214

UFC 214 may be headlined by a long-awaited clash of light-heavyweight rivals, but there will be another major 205-lb. fight on the Anaheim pay-per-view as well.

On Wednesday the UFC announced that top five contenders Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir will fight on the July 29 event.

Oezdemir fought last weekend in Stockholm, but left the cage about as fresh as he entered it: less than thirty seconds into the co-main event he knocked out highly-touted Misha Cirkunov in a major upset. He had previously beat Ovince Saint Preux by split decision, but upsetting Cirkunov proved that Oezdemir deserved his spot in the division’s top five.

Manuwa is riding a streak of two straight knockouts over Saint Preux and Corey Anderson. He has been engaging in a war of words with light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who will headline UFC 214 in a title defense against longtime rival and former champion Jon Jones.

The placement of Manuwa vs. Oezdemir on the same card as Cormier vs. Jones is strategic on the UFC’s part; UFC President Dana White has expressed reluctance in trusting Jones as a pay-per-view headliner after his recent history of forcing cards to fall apart due to his outside-the-cage choices. Cormier has also been prone to injury as of late, withdrawing from two title defenses last year.

Now if one of the main event participants is forced out of the fight, either Manuwa or Oezdemir can be bumped up to take on either Jones or Comier. Assuming that all goes according to plan, however, Manuwa vs. Oezdemir will remain a pivotal fight to determine who will challenge for the light-heavyweight title down the road.

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