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Volkan Oezdemir believes he can withstand Daniel Cormier’s wrestling, says UFC 220 title defense is ‘risky’

UFC 214 Jimmy Manua vs.  Volkan Oezdemir Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The good news for Volkan Oezdemir is that a felony charge isn’t going to stop him from competing for a divisional title at UFC 220 on Jan. 20. The bad news is that “No Time” will be asked to defeat reigning UFC light heavyweight king Daniel Cormier.

While Oezdemir’s short time inside of the Octagon has left fight fans excited about his knockout power, the 28-year-old Swede has never faced an opponent quite like “DC.” Cormier has only lost to Jon Jones throughout his entire professional fighting career and sports one of the best ground games mixed martial arts (MMA) has ever seen.

In order to stifle Cormier and pull off the upset, Oezdemir will have to find a way to not only land his powerful punches, but avoid the champion’s elite wrestling.

“He’s coming here from a wrestling background and I’m coming from a striking background, but definitely it’s the highest level of the UFC, and we’ve both been fighting for a while now,” Oezdemir said during a recent appearance on BJ Penn Radio. “He’s been holding the belt also for a long time. And you’re gonna see definitely a full display of fighting.”

“I mean MMA is a complex game,” he continued. “We’ve seen a lot of a wrestlers being taken down this year, taken down by many guys that are not supposed to be wrestlers also, you know? It’s all about your stance, and when you use any proper technique. It’s a really complex game, so it’s all about putting everything together and I think I’m gonna do really well with this. My striking is getting really sharp right now, my wrestling is improving so much and it is gonna be… I’m gonna show it on January 20.”

Since entering the promotion earlier this year, Oezdemir has quickly earned himself a title shot opposite Cormier by winning all three of his Octagon appearances, which includes quick knockout finishes of Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov. But, despite his recent success, Oezdemir understands that Cormier is taking a risk by defending his title against a fighter lesser known to the division compared to an established contender like Alexander Gustafsson.

“Definitely it’s a risk for him also because I don’t have a big name yet, so if you think about it business-wise, it’s something you have to think about,” Oezdemir said. ” Yeah, it’s a big risk, but I think he made a poll, and I was number one in the poll, so I guess he chose [me] … He was concerned about what the fans wanted and the fans just chose me, so I think it’s pretty classy [of him] also.”

Every title fight is a big risk for a champion, but Cormier is sticking his neck out against a guy who just arrived on the scene less than one year ago. It’s a testament to the lack of depth in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. We will have to wait and see if Cormier’s willingness to step inside of the cage with “No Time” backfires.

UFC 220 will take place on Jan. 20 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside TD Garden in Boston, Mass., and will be headlined by a heavyweight title fight pitting current champion Stipe Miocic against rising knockout sensation Francis Ngannou.

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