Volkan Oezdemir was going to weigh in for a Titan FC bout Friday. Instead, he was making his impending jump to the UFC official.
In a span of just a few hours this week, Oezdemir went from preparing to be in the Titan 43 on Saturday night in Florida to turning his focus to one of the top light heavyweights in the world. On Friday, the UFC announced it had signed Oezdemir to face Ovince Saint Preux on short notice at UFC Fight Night 104 on Feb. 4 in Houston. Saint Preux’s original opponent, Jan Blachowicz, had to withdraw due to injury.
Oezdemir’s quit exit left Titan without a co-headliner for its card Saturday night in Coral Gables, but that was absolutely fine with promotion brass. Titan COO Lex McMahon told MMA Fighting that he actually reached out to the UFC about signing Oezdemir when he found out Blachowicz couldn’t fight.
“We have this tagline at Titan: fans, fighters first,” McMahon said. … “There comes a time when you have to be more than just marketing. You have to mean what you say.”
Oezdemir (12-1), a Switzerland native, was likely one solid victory away from getting signed by the UFC, McMahon said. He was supposed to face Jack May at Titan 42 in December, but May was pulled from the fight hours before due to injury and the contest had to be scrapped.
“I felt that Volkan really had an opportunity to get to the UFC if he had a good performance,” McMahon said. “Just because of circumstance, he really wasn't getting that chance.”
Oezdemir, 27, was slotted to face Mo De’Reese on Saturday night for the vacant Titan heavyweight title. De’Reese got staph infection earlier in the week and Titan was going to get an opponent to face Oezdemir on short notice, but it would no longer be a title bout. The plan, McMahon said, was always for Oezdemir to fight Saturday for Titan — until the chance with the UFC came up.
“He deserved the opportunity, man,” McMahon said. “That’s the bottom line. I thought he really deserved the opportunity.”
Oezdemir, who has trained in South Florida with the Blackzilians, has won two straight and his only career loss came in 2014 to Kelly Anundson under the Bellator banner. All but one of his wins have come by finish.
Saint Preux (19-9) has lost two in a row, but went five full rounds with Jon Jones at UFC 197 last April. He owns a knockout victory over Mauricio Rua.
Titan has a good relationship with the UFC. Its events air on UFC Fight Pass. McMahon and CEO Jeff Aronson believe that allowing athletes that pass through Titan to move on and fulfill their dreams in the UFC is an important part of what they do.
“It’s synergistic,” McMahon said. “We sometimes lose out on building brandable fighters, fighters we can have a long run with. But on the flip side people know we’re going to get great fighters because I think guys know we’re going to give them a fair shake.”
Titan 43 is headlined by a flyweight title fight between champion Jose Torres and veteran Pedro Nobre.