Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir expects a good “war” when he faces his former training partner Ilir Latifi at UFC Stockholm this weekend (Sat. June 1, 2019).
The show goes down from the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. In the co-main event, Oezdemir and Latifi will square off. Speaking on the Eurobash podcast recently, “No Time” detailed his past training experience with Latifi, who he had nothing but kind words for (via MMA Fighting):
“I trained with Ilir in 2011, the first time I was in the U.S.,” Oezdemir said. “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.”
Oezdemir is no stranger to facing opponents that he has shared the training room with. However, “No Time” is approaching this fight with a completely different mindset. He has no ill will towards Latifi, but expects a “war” when the two heavy hitters throw down Saturday:
“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,” said Oezdemir. “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.”
Oezdemir is currently on a three-fight losing streak. After racking up five-straight wins, he unsuccessfully challenged Daniel Cormier for the 205-pound title in January of 2018. He followed that up with losses to Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes, dropping the former via submission.
Now, he faces Latifi, who recently had a two-fight win streak snapped by Corey Anderson in December. The 35-year-old UFC veteran still packs a heavy punch, and is hoping to put together a nice string of wins to earn the first title opportunity of his UFC career.