Volkan Oezdemir earned his light heavyweight title shot with a breakout 2017 campaign that included finishes of Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov in a combined 70 seconds.
According to reigning champion Daniel Cormier, it will take a similar type of effort for “No Time” to pull off an upset at UFC 220.
“I think it’s crazy, but I think it’s the only way he can win,” Cormier said at a recent press conference to promote UFC 220. “So what else? If it doesn’t happen? So many guys go into the fight that they’re just going to get me out of there. I’m smaller than everybody. I’m not the bodybuilding guy. I don’t look like those guys. So they think they’re gonna get old ‘DC’ out of there. But what happens after five minutes and I’m still pressing you, and I’m throwing you down and I’m pushing your head down and making you gasp for air? And I take you down and I cover your face, so you can’t breathe. What happens then?
“They turn over, they present their neck, and they tap out. That’s about to happen to Volkan Oezdemir.”
Not surprisingly, Oezdemir disagrees with Cormier’s assessment of how their Jan. 20 bout in Boston might go.
“I got a heart, man. It’s not going to be that easy,” Oezdemir said. “You saw my fight, you saw everything I did. I don’t think you’ve seen everything I’m capable of. All fights were so fast and you’re not gonna be different.”
Cormier isn’t the only one who hasn’t seen that much of Oezdemir. Of his 15 professional victories, 11 have come inside of a round. The 28-year-old Swiss fighter has undoubtedly come a long way in a few years. Back in 2014, Oezdemir was coming off a submission loss to Kelly Anundson under the Bellator MMA banner. What followed was a fight-fight winning streak – three in the UFC – that vaulted him to No. 1 contender status.
“It’s a big surprise for me because I was struggling to find fights for a while,” Oezdemir said. “I came to the U.S. for better training to give me a new life in my fighting career. I struggled to find fights and I was trying to get a contract somewhere or find a new opponent. I got signed here [to the UFC] on two week’s notice before I was supposed to fight for Titan FC, and then it was the beginning of my new life.”
Oezdemir has dealt with out-of-the cage issues leading up to the biggest fight of his career. On Jan. 9, he will appear Broward County Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court on Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. for a charge of felony battery causing great bodily harm, a second-degree felony. Oezdemir allegedly knocked a man unconscious outside a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., bar on Aug. 12.
The title challenger claims that the case won’t adversely affect him as he readies for Cormier.
“It doesn’t give me any distraction because I personally don’t hear anything,” Oezdemir said. “I have a team around me that’s taking care of that. My job is to train and to fight. And that’s it.”
That approach has paid huge dividends thus far. Even Cormier admitted to being surprised with how quickly his UFC 220 opponent has progressed.
“I once said that if I’m hanging around and fighting guys like Volkan Oezdemir I’ve done something terribly wrong with my money and my time. I just never expected him to do what he did so fast,” Cormier said. “He’s put himself in this position because he’s been impressive. I always say there’s levels to this game. He’s gonna realize a different level whenever we fight Jan. 20.”
It is only appropriate that someone with the moniker “No Time” would ascend through the rankings in the manner he has.
“I wanted to come there fighting fort the belt as fast as I can because I know I’m capable of anything and I’m there to win,” Oezdemir said. “I knew coming into the UFC I wanted to fight the top right away. I fought my first fight against No. 6 in the world on two week’s notice. I just kept on going.”