Volkan Oezdemir had just one loss on his record before signing with the UFC.
After putting together a stellar streak of three first-round knockouts to introduce himself to the promotion, which subsequently won him a title shot, the Swiss knockout artist now finds himself on a three-fight skid following losses to Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith and most recently, a close split decision defeat to Dominick Reyes.
“No Time” thought he would have a chance to get back to winning ways when he was scheduled to face former training partner Ilir Latifi at UFC Stockholm, but the Swede was forced from the contest due to injury at the eleventh hour. Although the fight has been rebooked for the main card of UFC Uruguay this weekend, Oezdemir admitted his frustrations when the fight didn’t come to fruition the first time around.
“It’s really disappointing when you’re not able to fight, especially when you’ve trained for it,” Oezdemir told MMA Fighting.
“You’re usually only fighting three or four times a year, so you’re training for most of the year. When it’s time to show off your skills it’s exciting and then when it doesn’t get to happen it’s very frustrating. It’s been rescheduled, so it’s all good because we can finally do it now. At the end of the day, it’s just given me more time to sharpen my tools and put on a good performance.”
Due to his recent run of form, Oezdemir is itching to get back into the win column.
“For sure, this is something that I wanted to get out of,” he said.
“This isn’t me, this isn’t the fighter I’ve always been. I’ve had some tough times with injuries, my hand was still bothering me and it was really hard to punch with it. It took away a lot of my power because everyone knows I’m a puncher. I had to develop more skills to be able to be proficient. I feel like I’ve really evolved and this will be Volkan 2.0 that everyone sees on Saturday night. I’m ready to get back in the win column.”
Oezdemir prides himself on taking on the toughest challenges available at each turn and given Latifi’s stock, he believes he can get back to strong position in the division with a win.
“Ilir has been at the top of the division for years now. He lost some key match-ups along the way and that stopped him from [getting a title shot]. I think getting a win over him will get back to at least near the top-five. I feel like if I get a win here I’ll be a few fights away from fighting for a title again. I’ve always looked for key match-ups against the strongest fighters available, so I feel like this won’t be a problem for me.”
Although he is confident of victory, the former title contender is under no illusions in terms of the challenge Latifi will bring to the Octagon.
“He is a really strong guy, he has no neck, so it’s going to be really difficult to punch him in the head! I’m just going to close my fists and hit really hard,” he said.
“If Ilir is going to be able to pull off his game you’re going to see me use a lot of different skills. This is going to be one of the first times I’ve been on the ground in the UFC except for my fight with Cormier. Nobody else has been able to take me there so I feel it’s another opportunity for me to showcase my skills in another area.”