A Kurdish Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter could become the next UFC Light Heavyweight champion if he defeats Daniel Cormier on Jan. 20 in Boston, United States.
Kurdish MMA fighter Volkan Oezdemir was given a title shot against current Light Heavyweight titleholder Cormier at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) first event of 2018 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Oezdemir, who was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, would become the first fighter of Kurdish decent to be named a UFC champion if he beats his opponent at UFC 220.
The 28-year-old currently holds a professional MMA record of 15-1 and is the UFC’s number two ranked Light Heavyweight in the world.
After speculation about Oezdemir’s background, he confirmed with US-based Kurdish MMA that his father, a Kurd from Erzincan Province (Erzingan in Kurdish) in northeastern Turkey, married a Swiss woman.
Oezdemir’s first UFC fight was earlier this year on Feb. 4 where he defeated opponent Ovince Saint Preux after a split decision. His next two fights in May and July were more decisive with both ending in first-round knockouts.
Commenting on his upcoming bout with Cormier (19-1), the Kurdish MMA star predicted another first-round knockout.
“The fight is building up on respect and some jokes by the side,” Oezdemir told MMA Fighting in an interview earlier this month, adding he was not going to show his opponent any respect on fight night.
“I don’t want my head everywhere,” he said. “I want my head only on my title fight, and I think that’s [the] most important to me right now.”