Former light-heavyweight title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir will meet on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 227 at Staples Center on Aug. 4, UFC announced Thursday.
Gustafsson (18-4) has lost only twice since 2010, and both in championship fights: an epic 2013 slugfest against then-champion Jon Jones that Jones claimed by unanimous decision and a split-decision defeat to current champion Daniel Cormier in 2015.
Cormier more convincingly handled Switzerland’s Oezdemir (15-2) by second-round knockout.
The winner will be strongly positioned to stand as the next opponent for Cormier, who fights for heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic’s belt Saturday at UFC 226 in Las Vegas.
Gustafsson, from Sweden, was originally mentioned by UFC President Dana White as an opponent for former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold on the Staples Center card, but Rockhold suffered a leg injury in sparring.
Oezdemir was pulled off a card in Germany later this month against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to move to the more high-profile match against Gustafsson, and ESPN.com reported earlier this week the pair had verbally agreed to the fight.
UFC 227 will not include a postponed featherweight-title meeting between champion Max Holloway and unbeaten Southland challenger Brian Ortega.
Holloway was pulled from Saturday’s UFC 226 card in Las Vegas with concussion-like symptoms.
Although a person close to the discussions immediately following Holloway’s removal said there was interest by the Ortega side to see if moving the bout to Staples Center could be done — pending a full review of Holloway’s health — the UFC on Thursday said there’s “no chance” that Holloway-Ortega is shifted to Aug. 4.