It’s a given that there is a little star power drop-off when you match UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier against Volkan Oezdemir compared to when the champ was fighting Jon Jones.
The Jones situation, however, is well established. Though he got the better of Cormier in the cage at UFC 214, he was later disqualified for having tested positive for steroids. Jones is now awaiting adjudication of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, which could net him several years on the sidelines, which could be a career killer.
With Jones out of the picture, Cormier is still the reigning, defending UFC light heavyweight champion. He’ll put the belt on the line against Oezdemir at UFC 220 on Jan. 20 in Boston.
Obviously, Oezdemir doesn’t yet have the star power of Jones or Cormier, but he’s been building his credentials. His record currently stands at 15-1 with three bouts inside the UFC Octagon.
Oezdemir has reeled off victories over Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov, and Jimi Manuwa. None of those were easy opponents, and he knocked out Cirkunov and Manuwa in a combined 70 seconds. Now, he’s taking aim at Cormier and the belt.
While it would appear that Cormier has the decided advantage, and he does both from a skills and an experience perspective, there is an interesting “elephant in the room,” as former UFC contender and current Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix participant Chael Sonnen puts it: longtime Cormier teammate Luke Rockhold has been in the gym working with Oezdemir.
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Just what does that mean for the UFC 220 co-main event? That’s a good question, and one that Sonnen tackled in his drive-along dissection of Cormier vs. Oezdemir.
(Courtesy of Chael Sonnen)