After suffering three straight defeats, Volkan Oezdemir is simply desperate to score a win, regardless of whether it's against friend or foe.
Talking to MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, Oezdemir detailed his past with upcoming opponent Ilir Latifi. "I trained with Ilir in 2011, the first time I was in the U.S.,” he recalled. “We trained together for five weeks and we really hit it off. We’ve stayed friends and we talk from time to time. I was eager to fight after taking three losses [in a row], but because of my visa I cannot fight in the U.S. right now, I must fight on the European cards."
“I wanted to get back on track because I was really feeling disgusted about the outcome of my last fight. I told the UFC I really wanted to fight in Stockholm; [the event] was two or three months away from my last fight. They told me the only possible opponents for the card were Ilir and Manuwa, and I’ve beat him already anyway. The choice turned out to be Ilir.”
While obviously not ideal, Oezdemir's options were limited and frankly, it's nothing personal. “One of my coaches from Turkey told me [Latifi’s] manager contacted him and he was fine with it; it’s just business at the end of the day. I don’t wish him any harm, it’s like two work colleagues, let’s put it that way. We’re going to be colleagues on fight night, we’ll be earning money together and may the best man win,” he said.
“I’ve been fighting guys that I’ve trained with, but maybe I’ve only trained with them twice, so it wasn’t really a big thing. With Ilir, it’s going to be a bit different; it’s going to be a different mindset going into the fight. I have no hatred towards him; just respect. It will be a good war, I know it will be like a good game. We’re going to fight to the best of our abilities and bring the best out of each other.”
After winning his first three UFC bouts and earning a title shot, Oezdemir has struggled and on Saturday, he'll be looking to end his recent woes.