Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir
Pro Record: 15 wins & 1 loss
Association: Team Tavares/ Fight Move Academy
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight
In this week’s addition of Fighter of the Week we take a look at the Takeover’s #6 Light Heavyweight, Volkan Oezdemir, who seems to keep getting doubted, at least by odds-makers, and keeps proving doubters wrong. He followed up a 28-second knockout over huge favorite Misha Cirkunov at UFC Fight Night 109 with a 42-second knockout over another big favorite, Jimi Manuwa, this past weekend at UFC 214. This is after beating another favorite in former title challenger, Ovince St. Preux, in his first UFC fight while taking the fight on short notice. Not only did he predict his first round knockout of Manuwa, he actually went out and did it. With his last two fights lasting a total of one minute and ten seconds it’s fitting he has the nickname “No Time”… as in no time to waste. He’s a perfect 3-0 in the UFC after making his debut in just February of this year and is already calling for a title shot. I’d say he hasn’t wasted any time in his rise to stardom.
Oezdemir had already been competing in kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu before transitioning to MMA. After spending three months in Thailand training he went to the Netherlands to train at the Golden Glory gym in Breda. While there he met and trained with Alistair Overeem, who is the gym’s most notable fighter. They became really close and Oezdemir started to travel with Overeem for his training, even going with him to Japan for his Overeem’s New Year’s Eve fight with Kazuyuki Fujita in the Dynamite promotion. Overeem questioned why Oezdemir didn’t fight himself especially considering his background. Oezdemir had competed in numerous BJJ tournaments around the world and was 5-0 in his professional kickboxing career. Ultimately, Overeem set up an amateur MMA fight for Oezdemir. Oezdemir would do a full training camp for his fight and would win by KO. The rest, as they say, is history.
Oezdemir would make his professional debut in September of 2010 in the Shooto promotion. He’d start his career out a perfect 9-0 in various promotions with eight finishes. He would win the Valhalla “Battle of the Vikings” tournament by destroying all three of his opponents in under 1 minute. Soon after Bellator offered him a contract which he immediately signed. In his first fight with his new promotion in September 2013 at Bellator 105 he beat Josh Lanier by TKO in the 1st round. His second fight didn’t go as well as he would lose to Kelly Anundson by neck crank submission in the 2nd round. Anundson’s wrestling proved too much as he was able to grind down Oezdemir and sink in a submission. To date, this is the lone loss of his career. Anundson would go on to the finals of the Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament and face ex-Bellator Light Heavyweight champ, Liam McGeary. After the loss Oezdemir would leave the promotion and fight at Heavyweight for his next two fights in SHC and WFCA, respectively.
Oezdemir would unexpectedly get his shot in the UFC due to an injury. Ovince Saint Preux was scheduled to face Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night 104 following losses to Jon Jones and Jimi Manuwa, however Blachowicz suffered an injury a couple of weeks out of the event. In stepped injury replacement Oezdemir, who despite only fighting twice in over two years and both fights coming at Heavyweight, answered the call. Oezdemir started strong, unsurprisingly, hurting Saint Preux early with combinations. Saint Preux would make a comeback in the 2nd and 3rd rounds but by the 3rd round both fighters were gassed and trying to hang on. Oezdemir would win the fight by split decision, however it was a controversial decision with ‘most’ MMA outlets scoring the contest for Saint Preux. The win would setup a fight with Misha Cirkunov who was coming into the fight at a -550 favorite. Cirkunov had started his UFC career 4-0 with four-straight finishes and had just signed a 6-fight contract extension. Cirkunov came out backing Oezdemir up with punch combinations, but it was Oezdemir who would turn the tables, hitting Cirkunov with a short right hand and dropping him to the canvas where he’d add a couple of jack-hammer punches before it being called by the referee at just 28 seconds of the 1st round.
Next up would be the hard hitting and highly ranked Jimi Manuwa at UFC 214, who was probably in line for a title shot with a win. The reoccurring underdog Oezdemir again wouldn’t see it that way and again he would prove the MMA world wrong as he stunned Manuwa in the clinch before a left hand ended it in just 42 seconds of the 1st round. Afterwards Oezdemir would say “I don’t know what’s happening with my hands, but that’s dynamite”. We don’t know what’s happening either but we are enjoying watching it.
So, what’s next for Oezdemir? It’s hard to say but beating three top level opponents in a row certainly has him in the title picture. With talks of a Jones-Lesnar super-fight, the division matchups could get cloudy. He definitely wants that shot at the belt calling out the winner of the Light Heavyweight Championship Main Event after his fight. Champion Jon Jones, just coming off his KO win of Daniel Cormier, has already stirred the pot by calling Oezdemir “The Russian Guy”. Oezdemir was born in Switzerland and is of Turkish decent. Oezdemir responded saying “He’s gonna have to know more about me, for sure”. Believe me, Volkan… after your last few performances the whole MMA world knows who you are now. The Light Heavyweight division has been put on notice there’s a new contender in the mix. We look forward to seeing what’s next