Back in January, in the co-main event of UFC 220, Swiss knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir failed to grab the UFC light heavyweight title from champ Daniel Cormier, succumbing to a meteor shower of second-round ground-strikes. Showing true championship spirit, however, Oezdemir has not been deterred by this failed title bid, and is determined to work his way back to a title shot in No Time at all.
Oezdemir’s first step back in the direction of title contention will occur in the main event of the UFC’s July 22 trip to Hamburg, Germany, where he’ll battle PRIDE legend and former UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
“It’s gonna be a really really great fight,” Oezdemir said of this Hamburg headliner on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio. “It’s gonna be a war and we’re going to be able to showcase some good striking.”
“[Shogun] thinks a win over me is going to give him some attention but that’s the problem,” he said. “I’m here to stay, and [get] back at the title as fast as I can. Fighting a former champion will [give] me good credibility for getting back to the title.”
While Oezdemir is happy with this Shogun matchup, he was originally hoping to battle fellow European star Alexander Gustafsson next. Provided he defeats Shogun, he’s now hoping he can fight Gustafsson thereafter — perhaps even in his native Switzerland.
“I tried to get a hold of Gustafsson for a while, that’s a fight I really want to have,” Oezdemir said. “Hopefully maybe since I’m fighting Germany maybe hopefully maybe I can fight Switzerland next, in my home country, and that will be amazing to see who’s gonna be the King of Europe finally.”
If Gustafsson isn’t available, Oezdemir says he’d also be happy to fight Glover Teixeira, who battles Ilir Latifi in the Hamburg co-main event.
“Glover was a fight I was also trying to get before the Shogun fight,” Oezdemir said. “I got the proposition for the Shogun fight, so there’s tons of match ups to do, but definitely I want to fight the best, the best guy, the highest ranked guy after [my fight with Shogun].”
Whoever he encounters in his next few fights, Volkan Oezdemir is hoping that anther win or two will be enough to push him back to a title shot.
“I’m going to have maybe one or two fights depending of what’s going to happen with the DC and Stipe and whatever, but maybe one fight after this one is gonna be for the title, maybe the next fight after that,” he said. “I think everything can happen really fast.”
Do you think Volkan Oezdemir will topple Shogun in Hamburg?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/3/2018.