“Lionheart” had taken the decision to move up from middleweight to light heavyweight and had struck a rich vein of form, having finished former UFC 205-pound champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua, both in the first round.
It meant Smith was given the main event spotlight as he took on Swiss knockout artist Oezdemir in a No. 1 contender fight in Canada.
It was “No Time” who started the better of the pair, as Oezdemir set to work with his solid striking and heavy top game as he pushed the pace and forced Smith onto the back foot through the first two rounds.
But Smith managed to bust the Swiss contender’s nose, which started to bleed profusely as Oezdemir started to struggle with the pace of the contest. Then Smith began to work his way back into the fight.
Smith put his foot on the gas in Round 2 and enjoyed success with his strikes before taking Oezdemir to the mat. Once there, “Lionheart” set to work on creating an opening for a submission and, after taking his back, he finally locked up a rear-naked choke to force the tap and earn the come-from-behind victory.
It took Smith’s run at light heavyweight to 4-0 and earned him a shot at then-champion Jon Jones.
Now Smith is looking to work his way back to a title shot, and he’ll take on Austrian contender Aleksandar Rakic in the main event at UFC on ESPN+ 33, which takes place Saturday at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event streams live on ESPN+.