Third time will be a charm for Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (15-4-0) and Ilir Latifi (14-6-0, 1 NC). After Latifi was forced out of their fight in June due to injury, the bout was moved to UFC Newark and eventually moved up another week (due to VISA issues) to this Saturday’s card at UFC Uruguay. The former training partners will finally square off in a battle between two of the divisions top 10 ranked light heavyweights.
A post shared by Volkan Oezdemir (@volkan_oezdemir) on Jun 25, 2019 at 11:15am PDT
Since coming up short in a title fight at the beginning of 2018, Volkan Oezdemir has gone winless in 3 straight fights and is looking to waste “no time” in getting back inside the win column. Following his most recent loss, Volkan was eager to get back into the octagon and get a quick turnaround as he said on bjpenn.com: “Yeah, it was really disappointing. I wanted to have a quick fight and a quick turnaround after my last fight. Just bounce back and get a win…I wanted Ilir to feel the power with all the rage I had. It didn’t happen and I was disappointed. Now it will happen in Uruguay.”
A post shared by Ilir Latifi (@ilirlatifi) on Feb 20, 2019 at 1:07am PST
Oezdemir will be looking to “exploit” Latifi, as he’s gone on record recalling when they were training partners several years ago but at that time claims he was “young” and that Latifi was already an “established fighter”. Since then he believes that he has basically made leaps in his striking, gotten stronger, and is the more technical fighter. Saying that this Saturday’s fight is the perfect opportunity for him to display all his skills.
A post shared by Ilir Latifi (@ilirlatifi) on Nov 19, 2018 at 10:02am PST
Recently Swedish MMA took a hit in the UFC with the retirement of Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson provided Swedish MMA with their best hopes of obtaining UFC gold. Now his training partner, Latifi, must carry the weight of a nation as their greatest chance at claiming gold in a division that’s as tough as they come. Coming off an all too familiar feeling of being on the brink of a title shot only to suffer a loss when in arms reach– his climb up the mountain begins again this Saturday.
Latifi has never let the past define him though; he has been quoted this week saying “my focus is always with a positive mind, trying to evolve ” and at the same time addressing his friendship as former training partners with the man he’ll be going against this Saturday, “It’s always harder fighting someone that you know as a friend or as a training partner, but we’re both athletes, sportsmen and it’s nothing personal; it’s just the job”. With a victory this Saturday, Latifis’ journey up the mountain will all depend on the outcome this weekend at UFC Uruguay. A victory, especially if it’s convincing, will put him back in title contention but a loss will only dig him a deeper hole.
A post shared by Ilir Latifi (@ilirlatifi) on Oct 19, 2018 at 10:08am PDT
With championship aspirations on their mind and in a division that at times seems to only require a highlight reel finish to put you within reach of an opportunity at the champ – Latifi said it best when he described this Saturday’s bout between him and Oezdemir: “He’s coming in hungry and he’s going to put everything on the table. I’m prepared and it’s going to be a war”.
One thing’s for sure though, it’s that whoever walks out of that octagon with their hand raised, for them it wasn’t personal – it was just business.
Be sure to tune in this Saturday on ESPN+ when “No Time” meets the Swedish “Sledgehammer” in a can’t-miss light-heavyweight bout!■