Back in November, we learned that top light heavyweight contender Volkan Oezdemir was being charged with felony battery as the result of an unfortunate incident in a Florida bar. According to a report from MMAFighting.com, who spoken with Oezdemir’s lawyer Bruce A. Zimet, the Swiss fighter pleaded not guilty to this charge, and demanded a trial by jury at a Tuesday arraignment.
Oezdemir’s next hearing will occur on February 22, and the good news is that he’s been given no travel restrictions in the meantime. This means that he’ll be able to fly to Boston to battle UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 on January 20 without a hitch.
Per MMAFighting’s report, Oezdemir was originally charged with aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability, a second-degree felony. Since then, however, his charge has been downgraded to felony battery with great bodily harm, a third-degree felony. The maximum sentence for this type of felony is five years in prison. Luckily, Oezdemir’s team seems optimistic that he did no wrong.
Florida man Kevin Cohen is accusing Oezdemir of knocking him unconscious, maintaining that he was out for a whopping 14 minutes as the result of the blow, and that he subsequently hospitalized with concussion symptoms and lacerations. Oezdemir’s lawyer, however, asserts the fighter was “just defending himself.”
Since joining the UFC roster in early 2017, Oezdemir has gone 3-0, first defeating Ovince St. Preux by decision in a short-notice fight, then crushing Misha Cirkunov with a first-round punch, and most recently smashing Jimi Manuwa to a first-round stoppage back in July. He owns a strong overall record of 15-1.
Cormier, meanwhile, last fought in July, when he was knocked out by Jon Jones. When Jones failed a pre-fight drug test, however, his knockout win was overturned, and the belt was returned to Cormier.
Do you think Volkan Oezdemir will capture the light heavyweight title at UFC 220?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/10/2018.