Daniel Cormier is one of the greatest light heavyweight mixed martial artists of all-time – there’s no question about it.
But as we approach UFC 220, we find Cormier in a somewhat unusual position.
Before facing Jon Jones at UFC 214, Cormier had defeated Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier, and then Anthony Johnson again on what is one of the most impressive runs in light heavyweight history. But that all changed at UFC 214 when he met Jones for the second time. Despite looking outstanding in the opening rounds, Cormier eventually took a high kick to the side of the head and stumbled across the octagon before Jones finished the fight. However, this loss will never be recorded as an official ‘defeat’ because Jones again tested for a prohibited substance.
In effect, Cormier was handed back his title and now will defend it at UFC 220.
Although Cormier’s long reign as a dominant champion in the division, there’s something almost just as impressive about the way Oezdemir has climbed the rankings and earned himself a shot with the champion.
Oezdemir bounced on the scene in February 2017 and won a marginal decision against Ovince Saint-Preux. Although the upset nature of defeat was impressive, the way in which he did it wasn’t memorable.
And then he did it again. This time, he floored Jimi Manuwa in a similar way. Just one punch knocked Manuwa down to the mat and the contest was called off after 22 seconds. Oezdemir’s run is borderline ridiculous – he took out two talented light heavyweight fighters on the way to #1 contender status.
There’s an interesting question that is raised as we enter the co-main event of UFC 220.
Is Volkan Oezdemir’s power for real?
Looking back on it, he dropped Cirkunov with what seemed like a fairly normal punch. Upon closer inspection, it hit the ‘sweet spot’ of Cirkunov’s head – right near the back – and dropped him instantly.
Against Manuwa, Oezdemir was easily pushed back to the cage before waiting to unload a series of vicious strikes. It’s not normally possible for that much power to be generated in the clinch, but Volkan was getting full momentum and rotation of his hips by controlling the back of Manuwa’s head with his right hand and punching with the left. While, again, it seemed a little ‘fluky’, there’s something to be said about Oezdemir’s tremendous power.
He might have done it against two middle-tier guys in the division, but can he do it against one of the very best? Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, who is viewed as one of the most powerful punchers to run through the division, couldn’t stop Daniel Cormier and that makes it hard to see Oezdemir do the same.
But the difference is self-belief. Cormier will give Oezdemir chances. Not intentionally, of course, but he isn’t afraid to stand and trade with any fighter. He’s talented, too, and was getting the better of Jon Jones before being knocked out, but there are opportunities for an opponent, for sure. If Oezdemir connects, he might just shock the world and become the light heavyweight champion of the UFC.
Prediction and Betting Guide
The safe play is taking Daniel Cormier to win because it’s hard to see such a well-prepared champion losing to the relatively untested Volkan Oezdemir. But the money play is backing the small chance that Volkan Oezdemir lands flush on Daniel Cormier and ends the fight.
It might seem difficult to comprehend, but he’ll have his chance to do so.
Volkan Oezdemir to win by KO/TKO – Round 2
Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir Volkan Oezdemir to Win
Saturday, January 20 – 11:30 pm (ET) / 4:30am (GMT)
Odds: 27/103.70+2702.702.70-0.37 – BetOnline
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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