Volkan Oezdemir doesn’t see anything getting in the way of his dream of being a UFC champion. Not even his recent arrest on a felony charge.
“I have a really good team around me,” Oezdemir told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “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.”
Oezdemir will face champion Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 220 on Jan. 20 in Boston, it was announced last week. Some thought Oezdemir getting charged last month with aggravated battery with serious bodily injury — a second-degree felony charge — would put that title challenge in jeopardy.
But so far, it has not been a deterrence for the UFC. And Oezdemir said it was never a doubt in his mind. He is vowing to keep his thoughts on the fight and the huge opportunity rather than his pending court dates.
“That’s it,” Oezdemir said. “I have one goal in mind. Whatever can happen around me, it doesn’t really bother me. Now it’s all about my title fight, my weight in January. And that’s it. I’m really focused on that and I keep it out of the way.”
Oezdemir is being accused of knocking a man out outside of a Florida bar in August. The man, Kevin Cohen, said he needed multiple staples in his face and treatment for concussion symptoms due to Oezdemir’s alleged attack. Cohen also told Fort Lauderdale police officers that Oezdemir knocked another man, Sergio Sandoval, unconscious right before Cohen was allegedly struck. Sandoval has not cooperated with police and Oezdemir is not currently being charged in that situation, per police documents.
Oezdemir’s lawyer Bruce Zimet said at a hearing last month that Oezdemir was not the aggressor in the situation and was justified in his actions. Oezdemir, a Switzerland native who trains out of Combat Club in Lantana, Fla., surrendered his passport to Broward County court last week. He has pleaded not guilty on the battery charge.
On Monday, Oezdemir said he could not go into detail about what happened outside Capone’s bar on Aug. 12 in Fort Lauderdale.
“Unfortunately, I can’t, because it’s an ongoing investigation,” Oezdemir said. “My lawyer told me not to. That’s his job. My job is to fight, to be ready for the fight. And I’m thinking I’m doing a great job of that, because I’m feeling great. I’m ready to fight. Jan. 20 is gonna be huge.”
Oezdemir said he would like to talk about his side of what happened when the legal process is over. He said he believes there is a reason why he was arrested on the charge last month when the alleged battery happened in August: because he’s about to fight for the UFC title.
“Not gonna say nothing, but it’s possibly linked,” Oezdemir said. “It’s all good. I'm focusing on the positive and that's the only thing that matters, I think.”
Oezdemir, 28, lauded the team around him, from his management to his coaches to his attorney. He doesn’t believe any legal reason will keep him out of the fight with Cormier and it is not currently on his mind.
“My focus anyway is on the title shot,” Oezdemir said. “I believe whatever is gonna be handled. Everything is gonna be handled the right way with this and it’s not gonna pose any problem.”