In the seven months since his UFC debut, light heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir has gone from an unknown quantity to a bona fide title contender.
Due to Jon Jones’ latest infringement, the 205-pound division has been brought to a standstill. As far as Oezdemir is concerned, only Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson appear to be likely candidates for his next outing.
If Oezdemir had a choice, his next date would be slated against Gustafsson.
“I think a fight with ‘DC’ or a fight with Gustafsson are most likely next, but I think the best option for me is to fight Gustafsson,” he told MMAFighting.com.
“The situation isn’t very clear with the belt, so in the mean time I would like to fight Gustafsson for the number one contender spot. Maybe after that I can fight ‘DC’ for the belt. I think because he was the champion and with what has happened to Jones, he deserves to fight for the belt.”
Oezdemir called out Gustafsson following his first-round knockout of Jimi Manuwa at UFC 214. Although the Combat Club fighter was disappointed not to get a reply from the perennial contender, he wasn’t surprised by his silence.
“It’s a smart choice for him not fight me,” he explained.
“He’s right there for the belt too. His next fight was supposed to be for the belt, so because of that, fighting would me would be completely stupid.
“He will lose his spot if he fights me, he will go down and lose one year of his life. And I understand he wants to be smart. He’s coming back from an injury and now he thinks it’s his time to fight for the belt. He doesn’t want to lose it.
“Also, I’m here and I want to fight. I need to fight.”
Gustafsson won plaudits for his slick striking display against Glover Teixeira in their May meeting at UFC Stockholm. Despite the vast improvements he showed in the fight, Oezdemir is confident that he can bank another first round knockout win against him, similar to what his former teammate Anthony Johnson achieved in 2015.
“I haven’t seen the (Glover Teixeira) fight yet because I was in the locker room talking to my family and stuff. I didn’t really take the time to really watch the fight. I did see the finish,” he said.
“I see my fight with Gustafsson ending the same way his fight did with (Anthony Johnson). This is exactly what’s going to happen to him. He would not leave the first round, definitely not.”
As for when he would like to fight Gustafsson, as two well-known names on the European scene, Oezdemir believes they could do “something really big” if they were to main event a card on the continent.
“I think it’s all about strategy and I want to be smart with my decision. I think we could do something really big, like if the fight was a main event in Europe. It could be a pay-per-view card. It’s all about timing and being smart.
“Of course, I would also like to fight ‘DC’, but Gustafsson is a very famous in Europe. Maybe I could fight him in Sweden because that’s only an hour’s flight away from me.
“There are a lot of fans over there and I would bring many with me, maybe it could open up the French market because we know the sport is still illegal there.
“We will have to see what happens.”