In less than six months, Volkan Oezdemir went from UFC newcomer to UFC title contender.
The Swiss fighter made his promotional debut back in February, taking a short-notice fight at UFC Fight Night 104 against former sixth-ranked light heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux. That night in Houston, Oezdemir outpointed the former UFC title challenger, earning a split decision win. Oezdemir’s success didn’t stop there, as he followed up the Saint Preux victory with two impressive first-round finishes, stopping top prospect Misha Cirkunov, and most recently, top contender Jimi Manuwa.
Despite climbing the UFC light heavyweight ladder in almost no time, Oezdemir hasn’t really looked back at his fascinating UFC run and he’s not planning to, as he’s only concerned about looking ahead.
“I don’t want to get comfortable,” Oezdemir told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I’m trying to move forward all the time. After the Misha fight, I was planning that same night for the Manuwa fight and we were already negotiating. And now, after that last fight, I’m trying to get Jones or Gustafson. I’m trying to be proactive now, and you know, I’m up to my new objective.”
Oezdemir’s objective is to land another high-profile fight before the end of the year that could award him the next shot at Jones Jone’s belt. But with the lack of depth of the division, plus sitting third in the UFC light heavyweight rankings, there aren’t many options available for the 27-year-old Oezdemir. In fact, according to Oezdemir, there’s only one opponent that really makes sense for him next, but he doesn’t think that opponent would be up for a fight.
“I think that’s the best match to do,” Oezdemir explained regarding a possible fight with Alexander Gustafsson. “I think he wants to focus on Jones because I’m a dangerous fight. I think there isn’t too much data on me, plus I have big knockout power and I fight kind of like the same style that AJ [Anthony Johnson] fights – and he had a tough fight against AJ – so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want that fight.”
Just a few days removed from his impressive knockout at last month’s UFC 214, Oezdemir called out Gustafsson through his Instagram page, but hasn’t heard back from the Swede. It’s possible that Gustafsson could be the next title challenger, as he has beef to settle with the champ. Also, their highly-anticipated rematch never came to fruition since Gustafsson had to pull out of UFC 178 due to injury.
If Gustafsson were to get the next crack at the title, Oezdemir would be open to fight someone else, but the current landscape of the weight class doesn’t offer to many options for him, which is problematic.
“Yes, but the thing is that right now the division is really blocked,” Oezdemir said. “‘Shogun’ [Rua] is fighting O.S.P but that’s going to be in September and [after] then they need time off, I guess. And now, they just signed Glover [Teixeira} and Misha [Cirkunov] and that’s going to be in UFC in Brazil [in October]. D.C. is just coming off a loss, but he’s still No. 1 contender, so that might be good even though he’s coming off a loss.
“So Gustafsson is the only one coming off a win that’s highly ranked. Strategy wise, I want to fight because my goal is to fight for the belt as soon as possible. I don’t want to take too much time doing something else, but I don’t wan’t to take time off also, so it’s something we have to think about.”