The UFC’s PPV numbers have not been that great thus far in 2018, and it appears that they’ve been trying to stack cards of late to bring up buys. In that vein, the promotion managed to get top-ranked Alexander Gustafsson a fight at UFC 227 on August 4th - but they had to sacrifice a headlining fight to do it, apparently. Gustafsson will meet Volkan Oezdemir at the event.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN has the news:
BREAKING: Alexander Gustafsson (@AlexTheMauler) and Volkan Oezdemir (@volkan_oezdemir) have verbally agreed to meet at UFC 227 on Aug. 4 in Los Angeles, multiple sources say. UFC has been working on a fight for Gustafsson on that card for awhile, finally got one done.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 2, 2018
Oezdemir was scheduled to fight Mauricio Rua on the July 22nd card in Hamburg in the main event. This change would possibly indicate that Shogun was hurt. But strangely enough, he’s not and the UFC is looking for a replacement for him in Germany:
Volkan Oezdemir was scheduled to face Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua on July 22 in Germany, but the UFC opted to move him to UFC 227 against Alexander Gustafsson. UFC currently working on a replacement to face Shogun.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 2, 2018
Oezdemir (15-2, 3-1 UFC) is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier in a title fight back in January. Gustafsson (18-4, 10-4 UFC) hasn’t competed since May of 2017, when he defeated Glover Teixeira.
Breaking up a headlining fight on three weeks notice to make a fight that would be, at best, the third fight on a PPV (since there are already two title fights on UFC 227) is a very odd move. It could be that Oezdemir had visa issues again stemming from his legal issues, as he did before an agreed-to fight with Shogun in Chile a few months ago - but that is just a guess.
It will be interesting to see what the UFC does in terms of a replacement for Shogun.