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UFC 214’s Volkan Oezdemir refuses to play it safe, targets title shot with first round knockout of Jimi Manuwa

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Oezdemir vs Cirkunov Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Volakn Oezdemir seemingly came out of nowhere. After edging out Ovince Saint Preux earlier this year in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut, “Cousin” went on to knockout top-ranked Light Heavyweight contender Misha Cirkunov in a mere 28 seconds at UFC Fight Night 109 a few weeks ago (see it again here).

That win was good enough to earn Oezdemir a co-main event slot at UFC 214 on July 29, 2017, against none other than Jimi Manuwa. And to hear Oezdemir tell it, “Poster Boy” is going down ... fast.

"It's not a question about if I can beat him … I know the answer because I'm confident in my abilities,” Oezdemir said during a recent interview with Flo Combat. "It's gonna be a knockout in the first round again."

But, don’t think for a second Oezdemir will be content with stopping there because he is not in UFC to play it safe, planning to go straight for the title should he get through the No. 2-ranked fighter. Indeed, he’s already planning a post-fight callout that will request the winner of the Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier title fight, which will headline the pay-per-view (PPV) event that same night.

"It's fast, but it's been a long process ... I've been training all my life for this moment,” he said. “I don't want to take my time. I want to go straight for the belt. I want to fight as much as I can, I want to fight the toughest guys in the world, and I'm not here to play it safe.

"After my win against Manuwa, I will be 3-0 and I will have a win over No. 6, No. 3 and No. 2 in the world,” he continued. “Gustafsson lost against both [Jones and Cormier], so it would be a rematch. Maybe the division needs some new blood. I'll be there."

Despite his confidence, it will be very hard to convince UFC matchmakers to give him a shot at the strap over “The Mauler,” seeing as how the towering Swede put on perhaps the best performance of his career against Glover Teixeira recently.

Still, that won’t stop Oezdemir from trying,

"I always try to finish my fights fast and actually I've always done it … I found my old self in that fight, finishing people in one minute or two minutes."

Indeed, 11 of Volkan’s 13 victories have come via first round finish. But, can he add Manuwa -- who has devastating knockout power of his own — to his ever-growing hit list?

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