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When Volkan Oezdemir made his UFC debut in February of 2017, nobody could imagine the speed in which he would rise to the top of the light heavyweight division.
In just eleven short months Oezdemir was standing inside the octagon in the TD Garden across from Daniel Cormier. Some claimed leading into the fight that it was far too fast, but it was all part of Oezdemir’s ultimate plan.
“I got the offer for the belt and wanted to take it obviously - you don’t say no to a belt,” Oezdemir shared. “My goal was to write history in order to be the fastest or one of the fastest to get into a title shot.”
The loss to Cormier though was quickly followed by two more losses to eventual title challengers Dominick Reyes and Anthony Smith. The run left Oezdemir with two years between wins, which could be crippling for many at the top of the sport. For Volkan though, it was something he felt his career needed - something that would eventually instill him with the confidence and trust that he needed.
“It’s part of the process. Sometimes you question yourself - how you did it, what you should have done, how you fight, what is your motto, what do you want to do in the fight,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s too much questioning… it’s all about instincts, it’s all about feeling. Sometimes you need to go through something to realize that everything you are doing, if you are succeeding, was the right thing to do, so you don’t have to change that.”
And now with that trust instilled in him, he’s as confident as ever that he’s heading back towards a title shot. Of course he’s still focused on improving, he’s just not overthinking it anymore.
“Obviously you need to improve all aspects of the game and to cover up your holes, but at the end of the day, it’s all about being in the moment in the fight,” he said. “This is what I’m doing now.”
The insight that he gained from this process, along with the in cage experience, is something he plans to lean on when it comes to his fight this weekend with Jiri Prochazka. With the newcomer coming over from Rizin, Oezdemir sees a lot a reasons he has advantages coming in.
“The experience inside the cage is definitely something I have an advantage in,” Oezdemir pointed out. “I also have way more experience from my previous fights because I’ve been facing the top competition in the world and this has brought me a lot of experience and a lot of insights in reading [opponents].”
Even though he is all about being in the moment now, Oezdemir still has things he’d like to do in this fight, and if he has his way, it won’t be a long one.
“I have a really precise way of what I want to do in the fight, and I see some holes and some stuff I want to exploit,” he said. “I guarantee you with this, it’s not going to last more than one round.”