Volkan Oezdemir-Nikita Krylov set for UFC Fight Night co-main event

A pair of up-and-coming light heavyweights will headline a UFC card next month.

Former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir and Nikita Krylov will face off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night on Oct. 17 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the promotion announced Thursday. Both men are jockeying for position in the evolving 205-pound division, which will see a new champion crowned Saturday at UFC 253 in a vacant title bout between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz.

Oezdemir (17-5) had a two-fight winning streak snapped in his last fight, a second-round knockout loss to Jiri Prochazka in July. The Switzerland native fought then-champion Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 220 in January 2018. Oezdemir, 31, was in just his fourth UFC fight when he competed for the belt. He has gone 2-3 since then.

Krylov (26-7) has won six of his past eight fights. The Ukraine native is coming off a unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker on March 14, the last card before the UFC's nearly two-month COVID-19 shutdown. Krylov, 28, has lost only to top contenders Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira since 2016.

UFC Fight Night on Oct. 17 will be headlined by a key featherweight rivalry matchup between former title challengers Brian Ortega and "The Korean Zombie," Chan Sung Jung.

Also announced Thursday, heavyweights Stefan Struve and Tai Tuivasa, both in need of a victory, will meet at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 in Abu Dhabi. That card is headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje fighting to unify the UFC lightweight title.