This Saturday, in the co-main event of the stacked UFC 220, Switzerland’s Volkan Oezdemir will attempt to steal the light heavyweight title from champion Daniel Cormier.
To prepare for this monumental challenge, Oezdemir has been preparing at the talent-rich Combat Club in Lantana, Florida – a space he shares with former middleweight champion and long-time Cormier training partner Luke Rockhold. In fact, he’s even gotten a few rounds in with Rockhold.
This surprising Oezdemir-Rockhold partnership has puzzled many members of the MMA community. Perhaps current Bellator star Chael Sonnen said it best:
“Why is nobody talking about the elephant in the room on this one?” Sonnen queried in a recent episode of Beyond the Fight. “There is some insider baseball here. Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier’s longest standing teammate, is now a new teammate of Volkan. They’re training together, every day. I saw a sparring video myself on the internet. What’s Rockhold saying? He’s not just saying ‘oh I’ll stay out of this one.’ You can’t just stay out of this one. Your buddy calls you and says ‘what are you going to do? Are you this guy’s teammate, or aren’t you? Do you belong to this gym or do you belong to that one?’ So what’s the insider baseball there. What’s the insider guy saying. What’s the guy that’s done a hundred rounds with DC saying to the guy he’s done thirty rounds with in Volkan. I find that interesting. I find both of these guys to be very confident, and makes me wonder who’s giving them that confidence?”
According to Cormier himself, however, Oezdemir’s apparent alliance with Rockhold is no cause for concern. The champ dismissed this issue in a recent Facebook Live Q&A.
“Luke training with my opponent? Meh. It doesn’t matter, Luke can’t really help him. Luke can’t beat me!” Cormier said with a laugh (h/t BloodyElbow). “What’s Luke going to teach him?”
Do you think Volkan Oezdemir’s training with Luke Rockhold will be problematic for Daniel Cormier?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/17/2018.