Paul Craig to fight Volkan Oezdemir in light-heavyweight clash at UFC London

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Craig will look to push himself one step closer to a title shot on July 23 as he takes on fellow UFC veteran Volkan Oezdemir in the English capital

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Casey O’Neill talks inspirational Paul Craig and Joanne Calderwood

Paul Craig is the latest Brit added to the UFC’s upcoming London card on July 23 as he fights former light-heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.

The clash marks back-to-back fights for Craig in London after he extended his unbeaten run to three fights in March by submitting Nikita Krylov in the English capital. Craig is unbeaten in over three years and is ranked No.8 at 205lb, one spot above Oezdemir.

Oezdemir is in desperate need of a win to keep his place in the top ten after losing his last two fights in the division. The 32-year-old was outpointed by Magomed Ankalaev last October and knocked out by Jiri Prochazka in his fight before that.

The Swiss-born UFC veteran Oezdemir went unbeaten in his first three UFC fights before challenging for the 205lb title in 2018, but has struggled to put together a string of wins ever since. He has won just two of his last nine appearances in the octagon.

Can Paul Craig become the first ever Scottish UFC champion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

Craig finds himself in a much better position to Oezdemir, winning his last four fights by stoppage. Speaking to Mirror Fighting before his win in March, Craig insisted he was just two wins away from a title shot.

“I have got gold in mind and I’d love to be the first Scottish UFC champion, that’s what I’d really love. That’s my dream, that’s my goal, that’s everything I want to get towards,” he said.

Craig turns 35 later this year and insisted he would retire at that age when first getting into MMA over a decade ago. But the resurgence of his career has led to a change of heart after being inspired by the likes of current 205-pound champion Glover Teixeira and former champion Jan Blachowicz.

Paul Craig celebrates victory against Nikita Krylov
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“When I first started MMA, I said ‘what age are people starting to dip down’. Going back 10 years ago the age was 35. But now, look at Glover, he’s 42. Jan Blachowicz, 39. So we’ve got older athletes in our division,” he added. Teixeira is scheduled to make the first defence of his belt against Jiri Prochazka at UFC 275 next month,

A win against Oezdemir could put Craig next in line for a shot at light-heavyweight gold, however he faces tough competition as Aleksandr Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev – who are both ranked above him – fight this Saturday with the hopes of a title shot at the forefront of their minds.

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