Volkan Oezdemir didn’t exactly call out Jimi Manuwa following his latest win in Sweden, but there was certainly a sense the Swiss striker, speaking moments after icing Misha Cirkunov inside 28 seconds, fancies a date with the Briton at some point this year.
He’s fresh enough, you’d imagine, for it to be sooner rather than later, too. After all, Oezdemir, a slight underdog heading into his UFC Fight Night 109 scrap with Cirkunov, walked away from Stockholm unscathed and with less than thirty seconds of Octagon time to his name; he was backed to the fence by an onrushing Russian-Canadian and then ended his opponent’s advances – and the fight – with a short right hook to the side of the head.
“That’s just something I did again and again (in practice), pivot and strike, pivot and strike. And that’s how I ended the fight,” Oezdemir said at the UFC Fight Night 109 post-fight press conference.
Manuwa, a rough and rugged striker from London who has knocked out Corey Anderson and Ovince Saint Preux in back-to-back fights, had been touted as UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier’s next challenger, only to see that slim chance fall by the wayside following Jon Jones’s decision to sort himself out and re-emerge in the title picture, thus reigniting a bitter rivalry. Since then, Manuwa has been put on stand-by for July 29, just in case Jon Jones does what Jon Jones tends to do, and has also entertained the idea of putting his MMA career on hold to pursue a boxing match against fellow Londoner David Haye.
It’s a fight with Oezdemir, though, that most appeals, at least in the eyes of any self-respecting MMA purist.
“Because he’s a striker and, now that [Anthony Johnson] is retired, I guess he’s the man in striking,” Oezdemir said when asked why a Manuwa fight appealed. “I’m a striker. I want to be the man, too. So we need to settle that.
“If you see his last fight with Corey (Anderson), he was taking his time, picking his shots, and when he unleashes, he has these power shots. So, we’ll see.”