Anthony Smith continued his surge in the light heavyweight division, choking out former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at 4:26 of the third round via rear-naked choke on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
A former middleweight, Smith (30-13) moved to 3-0 in the past five months. He elected to move up from the 185-pound weight class in June and has rattled off finishes against Rashad Evans, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Oezdemir.
"I've been fighting since I was 17 years old, chasing this dream," Smith said. "My career's been up and down. I've gone through so much adversity. All I wanted was to stand here after a win and feel confident in asking Dana White, [Chief Legal Officer] Hunter Campbell and [matchmaker] Mick Maynard: My name's Anthony Smith, and I want a title shot."
Smith's wins against Evans and Rua were both quick affairs that ended in one round. This latest win was anything but. Despite a bloodied nose early, Oezdemir (15-2) got out to an early lead on the scorecards behind heavy leg kicks and flurries along the fence.
Smith tried to take him down in the opening minute, but Oezdemir defended the shot. He ended up scoring a takedown of his own in the second frame and landed some decent shots to the side of Smith's head from top position.
Oezdemir, of Switzerland, started to fade in the third, however. Smith opened up with the overhand right and, although he continued to eat leg kicks, began pushing Oezdemir backward and even swept him off his feet with a low kick.
"I wasn't expecting to eat that many leg kicks. Man, that dude kicks hard," Smith said. "I think I told you guys, the first couple of rounds are going to be ugly. He's just so damn strong, so damn explosive, so good. I knew I had to be a nuisance, wear him out, lay on him, get him tired and take over in later rounds."
The finish came after Smith took Oezdemir's back after a takedown and secured a body triangle. He slowly worked his right arm under the chin and eventually produced a tap.
Smith has fought four times in the past nine months. Oezdemir falls to 0-2 in his past two fights. He suffered a third-round submission loss to current champion Daniel Cormier in a failed title shot in February.
Johnson beats Lobov on short notice
Johnson, of St. Louis, accepted the bout two weeks ago when the UFC pulled Lobov's original opponent, Zubaira Tukhugov. Tukhugov, a teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov, is facing potential discipline for his actions in a post-fight brawl at UFC 229 on Oct. 6.
Johnson missed weight for Saturday's contest by 1 pound, but Lobov said he did not want Johnson penalized. Despite the short notice, Johnson attempted 222 total strikes compared to Lobov's 189. He outlanded Lobov in total strikes 101-67.
Neither fighter appeared to significantly hurt the other, though both suffered cuts. Lobov bled from the bridge of his nose from the opening round. Johnson suffered a small cut near his left eye in the second round.
"Artem is a tough guy. I have grown in the sport and learned that I can't rush in and get tired trying to fight someone," Johnson said. "Artem has never been finished, so I had to think about that and pick my shots."
A former lightweight, Johnson is 2-1 since dropping to 145 pounds. Lobov, a teammate and close friend of Conor McGregor, has now lost three in a row.