Volkan Oezdemir doesn’t come from a hotbed of mixed martial arts, a place known for producing top contenders, world title challengers and champions.
“Switzerland is basically known for the banks, the chocolates and the watches,” said the Fribourg native. “These are the three careers you’re entering into when you think about it. Are you working in the banks or in the watch industry?”
The 28-year-old is neither a banker or a watchmaker, or a chocolatier for that matter. He is a mixed martial artist, though, one fighting for a world championship this Saturday against Daniel Cormier.
Some might say it’s too much too soon for the light heavyweight contender who stormed the gates of the Octagon with a trio of 2017 wins over Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa, but he’s heard that from the time he was compiling knockouts on the regional circuit.
“People were telling me it (his success) was because of the level of competition, but then in the UFC, the same stuff happened, so I know I deserve to be there,” said Oezdemir, who got his fighting education not in Switzerland, but in the Netherlands and South Florida.
“On the Dutch kickboxing scene there were some really high-level guys, and sparring over there is known to be really, really tough,” he said of his time in the Golden Glory gym. “I was just an 18, 19-year-old kid and I was sparring with all those big guys and big names.”
Think of the toughest environment you can to learn any sport, and Golden Glory was it for kickboxing. But Oezdemir paid his dues, learned his craft, and soon, the idea of fighting – one that he wasn’t thinking about initially – became a reality.
By 2010, MMA became his fighting weapon of choice, and it was in this new sport that he first earned his nickname, “No Time.”
“I was in a tournament in Denmark,” he recalled. “I did three fights in one night and I won them by knockout in the first minute. The nickname came from that night and it stayed.”
That type of brutal efficiency can scare off opponents, though, and Oezdemir didn’t have a line of foes waiting to take him on, even after his lone loss to Kelly Anundson in April 2014, so it made him reconsider the fighting life.
“I just didn’t feel the motivation or the need to go back to the gym and give my hundred percent,” he said. “And I didn’t want to continue this if I had no motivation and no willingness to do it.”
Eventually, a friend convinced the talented Oezdemir to give it one more shot.
“He told me to commit a hundred percent before quitting.”
Two months later, Oezdemir was in Florida, and two weeks after that he found a team.
“Then my second life started.”
In early 2017, Oezdemir got a call for a late notice fight against Ovince Saint Preux. He took it.
“I didn’t think about it too much – I accepted it right away. I know my value and my worth and I know I can beat anybody, so I just needed that call.”
It was all up to him from there, and each time his name has been called, he delivered. So it’s no surprise that when it was time for Cormier to defend his crown, Oezdemir’s name was brought up. Again, “No Time” stepped up.
“I respect him a lot, he’s a really tough opponent,” Oezdemir said of Cormier. “He’s a really good champion, I respect him, so I’m happy to be fighting him. I expect to see the strongest Daniel Cormier we ever saw.”
And fight fans expect to see the strongest Volkan Oezdemir we ever saw this Saturday. But is that enough to take the 205-pound title? This underdog has been there before. Several times, in fact. How did that go for Oezdemir’s opponents?
“Really bad. It wasn’t a good idea.”
So will it be déjà vu all over again for the Swiss slugger? He expects it to be.
“Basically my whole life, since I started, I wanted to be at the top,” said Oezdemir. “All the rest was just the process. Now I’m finally there and I’m fighting for the belt.
“I’m always going for the kill. When the bell rings, I’m going to knock you out.”