It’s not every day a champion loses his last fight and somehow defends the title in his next bout. That is what we have going down this Saturday at UFC 220. In the co-main event of the evening, Daniel Cormier will defend his title, that he briefly lost at UFC 214 to Jon Jones, when he takes on Volkan Oezdemir. Cormier got the title back when Jones was stripped due to a violation of a USADA test. Oezdemir, who is 3-0 in the UFC with 2 quick knockouts, will try to be the 2nd person in history to beat Cormier. Two of our staff writers will debate the winner in the Great Debate. Derek Bowe argues why Daniel Cormier will retain his title, while William Reat Noch states the case for the challenger, Oezdemir.
Why Daniel Cormier Will Win By Derek Bowe
Talk about a roller coaster ride for the light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. He loses his belt via TKO to Jon Jones, only to have it delivered back to his possession due to Jones’ failed drug test. Now champion again, questions of Cormier’s mentality going into the title defense with Volkan Oezdemir hold some validity. That said, if there is anyone equipped mentally to handle the situation, it is Daniel Cormier, someone who has surely endured his share in both his career and life in general. Daniel Cormier has proved to be the second-best light heavyweight in the world, and the margin is a wide one.
Let’s get right into it. Volkan Oezdemir is seen as a formidable contender, largely because of the raw power he possesses in his hands, that is literally it. He does not have the speed to match the champion Cormier, nor does he possess the wrestling ability to stay off his back. Cormier’s two fights with Anthony Johnson serve best as a barometer for this matchup. Are they the same fighter, Johnson and Oezdemir? No, Johnson is essentially the more athletically explosive, and gifted fighter than Oezdemir. Saying a fighter really only has a puncher’s chance sounds lazy in many instances, but it truly is the best way to describe this affair. Oezdemir is flatly not the better fighter in nearly every category. He does not wrestle as well as Cormier, he does not technically box as well as Cormier, and it would be difficult to say he can match the champion’s pace either. Considering all factors, barring the freakish power connection by Oezdemir, the pick has to reside with the better overall fighter. Cormier is the better overall mixed martial artist, and it is not close.
Prediction: Cormier via round 3 submission
Why Volkan Oezdemir Will Win By William Reat Noch
Welcome to another episode of the great debate. On this occasion, I will be attempting to get a win and explain why and how Volkan Oezdemir will defeat Daniel “DC” Cormier in UFC 220’s co-main event for the Light Heavyweight title. The odds seem to be heavily in favor of Daniel Cormier but I strongly disagree with them. So let’s take a look at why Volkan Oezdemir will be leaving with the belt at UFC 220.
Daniel Cormier is undeniably the best Light Heavyweight fighter on the roster as Jon Jones is currently suspended. Except for Jones, Cormier has defeated every fighter that was put in front of him using his strong Olympic wrestling base complemented in addition to a strong striking foundation.
Volkan Oezdemir has had only 3 fights in the UFC, a split decision against Ovince Saint Preux on two weeks’ notice, followed by two 1st round ko’s over Misha Circunov and Jimi Manuwa. Oezdemir fought every one of his bouts standing up and using his kickboxing ability.
When looking at both fighter’s styles, this is a typical grappler vs striker match up, most of the time these fights will result with the grappler using his wrestling to neutralize the striker’s offense and therefore, take control of the fight. In the same way, Daniel Cormier defeated both Anderson Silva and Anthony Johnson. However, I truly believe that a few minor details concerning Oezdemir’s technical ability will make a huge difference in the fight.
It’s fairly simple, Oezdemir excels both in the clinch and in the pocket, the two ranges Daniel Cormier usually wants to take the fight at. When looking at DC’s previous opponents, all the strikers he faced have attempted to keep the distance to avoid his wrestling, which seems like the most logical game plan. When it comes to Oezdemir, his striking is at its best when it is at close range, he KO’d Circunov with a small jab in the pocket and obliterated Manuwa in the clinch. This is why I believe Oezdemir will not be trying to keep DC at bay like most strikers that previously faced the Light Heavyweight champ. Also, his superior reach and length will give Oezdemir a greater margin to land the short shots needed to put DC away.
When it comes to Cormier’s wrestling and how much it will threaten Oezdemir, it is very hard to determine. Although Cormier is known for his wrestling, his well-roundedness and natural fighting style allow him to feel comfortable in every aspect of the game, whether he decides to stand and trade with Oezdemir is impossible to determine but it clearly wouldn’t be a favorable game plan for him, so I will assume that Cormier wants this fight on the ground.
Cormier’s grappling statistics average at 49% takedowns landed, a statistic that I find surprisingly low considering the caliber of Cormier’s wrestling, I imagine his inability of taking Jon Jones down has greatly affected that statistic. Oezdemir has never been taken down in the octagon, mainly because he finished two of his three opponents extremely quickly. In his fight with St. Preaux, he successfully defended the four takedowns attempted by Saint Preux.
It is crucial to remember that despite the fact that he is fighting for a title shot, we still know very little about Oezdemir as a fighter. I believe he will surprise Cormier and fans who still see him as a one-dimensional KO artist. I feel his willingness to embrace a short-range fight with an Olympic wrestler like Cormier will shock many fans. Oezdemir will successfully deny Cormier’s grappling and force him to fight at short range while he keeps the fight standing. His kickboxing ability will make him the superior striker and after breaking Cormier down, he eventually puts him away in the 3rd round by knockout out. I have decided to not address the matter of Cormier recently getting knocked out for the first time of his career in his last fight, as it is simply impossible to know how this will affect him.
I predict that Volkan Oezdemir beats Daniel Cormier by 3rd round TKO.