In the co-main event of UFC Stockholm, Volkan Oezdemir will return to the Octagon to take on Ilir Latifi. There, the Swiss fighter will attempt to get back into the win column for the first time since UFC 214 in July 2017.
His current skid includes losses to Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith, and a controversial decision loss to Dominick Reyes in March. After these setbacks, Oezdemir just wanted to get back into the Octagon soon and get the bad taste of losing out of his mouth.
“It was something I really wanted to do. I didn’t want to spend time off the mats, out of the cage. I really wanted to right the wrongs,” Oezdemir said to BJPENN.com. “For me, I felt like my last fight was a disappointment from what the judges had seen. I want to prove I’m still in the game and prove everyone wrong.”
This fight is extra important for Oezdemir as he knows his roster spot could very well be on the line if he loses four in a row. So winning is a must.
“It is a difficult situation. I felt the Smith fight they went well for me until the last moment. The Reyes one went really really good until the judge’s decision,” he explained. “It is really annoying because it is not like I have been dominated or knocked out. It is something I want to correct.”
However, something not going Oezdemir’s way with respect to this fight is the fact that he is fighting a friend in Ilir Latifi. The two have trained together, and Oezdemir says they stay in contact quite often, and it was not a fight he wanted.
Yet Oezdemir isn’t worried about any of that. Rather, he is just focused on getting back in the win column and proving the doubters wrong.
“It is going to launch me back and show everyone that I’m back in the game,” he said.
Volkan Oezdemir outlines path to title shot
Oezdemir knows if he can string together two to three more wins, fighting for UFC gold against Jon Jones could very well be possible. Especially because he doesn’t believe Jones will move up to heavyweight.
“Coming off three losses, it is hard to negotiate. Dominick Reyes should be next in line or Corey Anderson,” he said. “Maybe this one and one more victory gets me a title shot, and necessary in the eyes of the UFC.”
“I don’t think [Jones] is really going to move to heavyweight, probably not while Cormier is there,” Volkan Oezdemir continued. “I think if he goes to heavyweight it will be a super fight. Reading interviews from him it doesn’t seem like he is interested. I think he is comfortable at light heavyweight.”
The 29-year-old Oezdemir is ready to put on a show for the Swedish fans and hopefully return back home with a win.
“I think it is a really good fight for me. Stylistically it is a good matchup,” he explained. “He is a really strong guy. But, there is nothing surprising in his style and he has been the same fighter his entire career.”
Oezdemir knows the crowd won’t be cheering for him, but he is putting all that aside. He’s only focused on making a statement amid the trio of light heavyweight fights that top the UFC Stockholm card.
“It is a really good night for our weight class. Rakic and Manuwa, Latifi and me, and Smith and Gustafsson,” Oezdemir said. “It is kind of a play for the belt. Like a Game of Thrones type thing to see who gets closer to the belt.”
To get closer to the belt, Oezdemir has to right the wrongs of his past three fights and show the world he is back.
Who do you think will win the fight between Volkan Oezdemir and Ilir Latifi?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/28/2019.