The UFC light heavyweight contender pleaded not guilty on a felony charge and demanded a trial by jury at an arraignment Tuesday in Broward County (Fla.) Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, his attorney Bruce A. Zimet told MMA Fighting. Oezdemir’s next court date is scheduled for Feb. 22.
Per state attorney spokesperson Kristi Grimm, there have been no stipulations made by the court regarding Oezdemir’s travel. So, he should have no issue making it to Boston for his title fight against UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in the co-main event of UFC 220.
Oezdemir, 28, is being charged with felony battery with great bodily harm, a third-degree felony, in relation to an incident that happened at a Fort Lauderdale bar in August. He was initially charged with a second-degree felony — aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability — but it was bumped down when the state decided to pursue the charges in late December.
Felony battery causing great bodily harm in Florida carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail. Oezdemir, a Switzerland native, had to surrender his passport to the court temporarily. His immigration status could be affected if found guilty at trial.
Florida man Kevin Cohen is accusing Oezdemir of knocking him unconscious with a strike outside the Capone’s bar on Aug. 12. Cohen said he was out cold for 14 minutes, was rushed to a hospital and had to be treated for concussion symptoms and lacerations.
Zimet said Oezdemir was “just defending himself” in the “bar room fight” and justified in his actions.
Oezdemir (15-1) is on a five-fight winning streak, including victories in his first three UFC fights last year. The Combat Club MMA fighter knocked out top light heavyweight contenders Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa inside of a minute to earn the title shot against Cormier.