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State moves forward on felony case against Volkan Oezdemir, arraignment set

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A criminal case is still progressing against Volkan Oezdemir as his UFC title shot draws nearer.

The state of Florida is moving forward with a felony charge against Oezdemir and a court appearance has been set, per public records.

Oezdemir, 28, was originally charged in November with aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability, a second-degree felony. That has since been bumped down to felony battery causing great bodily harm, a third-degree felony. Oezdemir is being accused of striking and knocking out a man outside a Fort Lauderdale bar in August.

Oezdemir has an arraignment scheduled in Broward County Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court with judge Barbara R. Duffy presiding Jan. 9 at 9 a.m., per records.

Just 11 days later, Oezdemir is supposed to challenge Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 220 in Boston on Jan. 20. The UFC did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the developments in Oezdemir’s case Tuesday.

Michael J. Satz, the Florida state attorney, filed the new charge Dec. 15. On the same day, a no-bond arrest warrant for Oezdemir was issued by Duffy. That arrest warrant will only come into effect if Oezdemir does not show up to court Jan. 9, according to state attorney spokesperson Constance Simmons.

Oezdemir, a resident of Coconut Creek, Fla., was first arrested Nov. 19. At a hearing, his attorney Bruce A. Zimet said Oezdemir was not the aggressor in the incident and was justified in his actions. Oezdemir, a Switzerland native, had to surrender his passport to the court temporarily. He pleaded not guilty Nov. 29.

Zimet did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Florida man Kevin Cohen is accusing Oezdemir of hitting him and knocking him unconscious outside a bar Aug. 12. Cohen told Fort Lauderdale police that he was out cold for 14 minutes and taken to a hospital, where he was treated for concussion symptoms and given multiple staples for lacerations.

Cohen said he walked outside the bar, Capone’s, after hearing someone had knocked his friend out with a punch. Upon asking who hit his friend, Cohen said Oezdemir struck him.

Felony battery causing great bodily harm in Florida carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Oezdemir, who has won his first three UFC fights in impressive fashion to earn the crack at Cormier, told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour earlier this month that he did not expect the criminal case to get in the way of his title shot.

“I have a really good team around me,” Oezdemir said. “Believe me, everything is going to be all right. … I don't really know about all the details, how it’s gonna happen. But definitely I'm gonna fight and I'm gonna be champion.”

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