Last weekend, Swiss light heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir scored an abrupt, first round knockout win over the highly regarded Misha Cirkunov. With this win, Oezdemir earned himself a fight with the UFC’s third-ranked light heavyweight: British destroyer Jimi Manuwa.
On Wednesday’s edition of BJ Penn Radio, Jimi Manuwa discussed this newly announced bout with Oezdemir.
“It’s a great fight,” Manuwa told host Kinch. “He came in and he beat [Ovince St. Preux] by decision, and he just knocked out Misha Cirkunov. There was a lot of talk of me maybe fighting Misha Cirkunov before, but [Oezdemir] has gone and taken his spot, and I’ll be happy to welcome him into the upper levels of the UFC.”
Manuwa then gave a quick critique of Oezdemir’s performance, saying his win was too fast to reveal a whole lot.
“It was a good performance,” he said. “It was a quick finish, so you can’t really take too much from thirty seconds worth of work. But he looked good, he got the win, he got the quick win, and that’s good for him.”
From there, Manuwa discussed Oezdemir as an opponent. Though the Swiss striker is a top-5 light heavyweight, he remains a bit of an unknown to many MMA fans. Manuwa, however, isn’t concerned with the notoriety of his foe:
“It is what it is,” he said. “If Volkan Oezdemir has to get it for me to get my title shot, then so be it. That’s the way I’m looking at it. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me. They’re getting blown away.”
“He’s beaten to top-10 opponents,” he continued. “He’s got two great wins over two good opponents in the top-10, whereas when I came in, I fought somebody in the top-20, then another person in the top-15. It was kind of slower rise. He’s gone in to fight two top-1o guys and beaten them. So it is what it is. I’m fighting number five, so that’s it.”
Fighting a lesser-known and lower-ranked opponent, of course, does have it risks. From the early vantage point, this fight looks like a high risk, low reward fight for Manuwa, who many believe has already earned a title shot. Apparently, however, the Brit isn’t worried.
“I’m confident that he will not beat me,” he said. “It does seem risky, but he won’t beat me. He’s number five, it’s not like he’s a top-15 guy. He’s ranked number five. Shogun’s not ready – he’s number four, I’m number three. [Alexander] Gustafsson’s number one. The champion – what’s his name – and Jon Jones are fighting, so it does make sense in a way [to fight] number five.”
And while nothing is guaranteed just yet, Manuwa does expect a win over Oezdemir to earn him his long-awaited shot at gold.
“Right now nothing’s guaranteed. It depends how things play out. But I believe that I will be getting a title shot after that.”
As far as the outcome of this perceived striker vs. striker match goes, Manuwa had this to say:
“Maybe I’ll take him down and smash him up on the floor. [Either way,] Volkan’s getting knocked out.”
How do you think this Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir fight will go?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/1/2017.