Volkan Oezdemir foiled Paul Craig’s endless attempts to drag the fight to the mat at UFC Fight Night 208 in London, and did just enough offensively to ensure he emerged with a unanimous decision victory.
Oezdemir pressing forward immediately feeling out with the jab. Craig with his back foot against the cage, but then attempts an early takedown, trying to pull guard. It doesn’t pay off but he continues to stay in close and pulls guard again.
Oezdemir not having it and they go back up. Craig still showing no interest in striking as he again pulls guard and then goes for a leg lock. Oezdemir staying calm and looks to improve his position. Craig working hard on this submission, but Oezdemir is able to step out of it and quickly moves away back afterwards.
Oezdemir looking to get his striking going now, but Craig tries to grab hold of a kick, then closes the distance instead and pulls guard yet again.
Oezdemir stays on top for now, being careful not to leave himself open to a submission attempt. Eventually he gets back to his feet.
Craig looking for guard again close to the cage, but it doesn’t lead to anything and they go back up, though Craig does now have a little blood close to his hairline.
Craig continually trying to pull guard as soon as Oezdemir gets anywhere close to him but he’s having less and less success when he does so.
On the feet in the closing seconds of the round Craig lands a short punch, then another and follows it up with a head kick that partially gets through. Oezdemir presses forward and lands a few punches of his own as the round ends.
Front kick to the body from Craig. Now a head kick attempt and he drops to the mat afterwards hoping to bait Oezdemir down with him, but he doesn’t buy it and he’s forced to stand back up.
Craig throws kicks to various levels then tries to pull guard without success. He goes right back to striking and before you know it he’s back on the mat again with Oezdemir following him down this time.
Nothing happening from there and they go back up with Craig rushing him straight away with strikes. Oezdemir dealing with all these unorthodox takedown attempts, but he’s not getting any offense of his own going yet as he tries to solve this perplexing puzzle he’s been presented with.
Craig pulls guard again, Oezdemir almost stepping into full mount, but then opts to stand back up.
Craig back up and showing a willingness to trade a few strikes. Oezdemir lands a right hand, one of his few of the fight. Craig wades in with a few punches and then a takedown attempt that fails.
Oezdemir marches forward landing a few punches as he does so and Craig tries to bait him again by going to the mat, but Oezdemir isn’t interested and soon backs away.
Oezdemir moving forward again and connects cleanly with a couple of nice punches. Back to the mat Craig goes and with only a few seconds of the round remaining Oezdemir commits to landing a little ground-and-pound.
Oezdemir with a leg kick. Craig feels out with the jab and lands a kick. Overhand right partially gets through from Oezdemir.
Oezdemir lands a big punch and Craig wobbles. Oezdemir looks to capitalize and Craig goes down. Was he just baiting? He goes for an armbar, but Oezdemir stands and yanks his arm free.
Back to the feet they go. Leg kick for Craig. He attempts a double leg, but fails and Oezdemir drops down on top of him, then backs away.
Craig back up. Tired front kick from him. Oezdemir circles in the center of the Octagon then pops out the jab.
Nice jab for Oezdemir and then a leg kick. Craig attempts a takedown, fails and has to stand again.
Craig tries to jab and Oezdemir keeps his head out of range. Spinning kick to the body from Craig. Jab for Oezdemir.
Spinning backfist from Craig misses and Oezdemir clinches and doesn’t follow Craig down when he goes to his back.
Back on the feet yet again. leg kick for Craig and a jab from Oezdemir on the counter. Head kick from Craig is blocked.
A couple of punches from Oezdemir. Craig lands, but he’s tired and there’s nothing behind his work. Craig attempts to pull guard and go for a leg, but Oezdemir gets away easily.
Striking range again and Oezdemir looks to land a final big blow, but it only grazes the target. We’re headed to the judges to score this quirky fight.
So, Craig’s guard-pulling strategy (reminiscent of Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem back in the Strikeforce days) initially looked potentially troublesome for Oezdemir, but he never let it phase him and it wasn’t long before his opponent was starting to tire with his repeated failed attempts to get his ground game going.
Oezdemir didn’t do a whole lot himself, but landed the more meaningful strikes in the later rounds and he comes away with a unanimous decision victory (30-27 x3).