Knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir returns to the Octagon on May 12 at UFC Fight Night 129 when he takes on Mauricio Rua.
Many fight fans believe that “Shogun” is well past his prime and is coming to the end of his illustrious career. However, Rua, at 36 years of age, has put together an impressive three-fight winning streak including victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Corey Anderson and Gian Villante.
Oezdemir appeared on the “The MMA Hour” and talked about how he’s not reading into what the fans think of Rua and how he’s preparing for a very dangerous opponent.
“‘Shogun’ is still ‘Shogun,’” Oezdemir said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He’s been into wars, he’s not afraid of anything. So he’s still a dangerous fighter, definitely.”
Oezdemir grew up idolizing Rua as a teenager. One of his goals since he signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship was to have a fight with the legendary Brazilian.
“Since I sign with the UFC, my manager always ask me one thing, he said ‘who do you want to fight?’” Oezdemir said. “The only guy I always say I want to fight was Shogun because he’s somebody who, you know, I grew up watching him. I started watching Pride and he was the man at the time and he was one of my favorite fighters.
“So definitely that’s somebody I want to fight. I think it’s just amazing to be able to fight someone you’ve been looking up to.”
It’s been an eventful few months for Oezdemir, who went into his championship fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 with a pending court case on an aggravated battery charge in South Florida. The fight with Cormier didn’t go as planned as he lost by TKO in the second round and also suffered a broken orbital bone as well as a staph infection.
The 28-year-old is on the mend and is hopeful his court case will be resolved shortly in his favor.
“Thursday, I’m going to have probably the final court date, and definitely everything after that is going to be smoother,” Oezdemir said. “So of course, we have to wait for the judgment, but I know what I did and I know what happened and I’m really not scared or anxious about what’s going to happen. I’m really confident about that court date, and after this, this is going to be all over.”
The fight against Rua will be the first time Ozedemir has been the overall betting favorite, which he believes is a sign that people are finally taking him seriously as a UFC fighter.
“I think that’s the first time I was favorite in my UFC career, and that’s pretty great,” Oezdemir said. “Actually, it is really nice to see that way, fighting a legend like Shogun and being called the favorite, when all of my fights I was underdog, 5-to-1 and stuff like that. So it is pretty amazing and I think it just means also that I have cemented my place in the division. Now people take me serious and they know what I am capable of.”
Although being the favorite doesn’t change Oezdemir’s mindset as he’s fully aware of the danger the former lightweight champion poses.
“He’s like the guy who has the [longest] winning streak in the division, so actually he’s the real deal right now,” Oezdemir said. “And I think he’s closer to a title shot [than I], so it makes perfect sense for me.”