UFC light heavyweight title contender Volkan Oezdemir appeared in Broward County’s Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court and was arraigned today. He is due back in court on Feb 22, 2018.
Oezdemir pleaded not guilty to a charge of battery causing great bodily harm, a third-degree felony. Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), a 28-year-old Switzerland native, has been training for his upcoming title challenge against Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 with Combat Club in Lantana, Fl.
The charge stems from an altercation outside Capone’s bar in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, that occurred Aug. 12, 2017. Oezdemir was arrested Nov. 18, 2017, initially on a second-degree felony charge of aggravated battery causing serious bodily harm or disability.
According to court records, the alleged victim left the bar after hearing a friend had been knocked unconscious following a verbal altercation. When he asked what had happened, he said he “looked up and was hit in the face” by what the state prosecutor described as a “sucker punch.”
The alleged victim claims he lost consciousness for approximately 14 minutes, was treated at a local hospital for concussion symptoms, and received multiple staples for lacerations. Witnesses at the scene told the alleged victim it was Oezdemir who hit him. A second report, claiming Oezdemir struck another man, was designated inactive when he refused to cooperate with police.
In a hearing Nov. 19, Oezdemir’s attorney, Bruce A. Zimet, a former federal prosecutor, described the scene as a “bar room altercation” in which his client was not the aggressor and acted justifiably pursuant to Florida law. Oezdemir has claimed the incident was prompted when somebody approached his fiancee at the bar while he was in the restroom.
Oezdemir pleaded not guilty to the second-degree felony charges on Nov. 29 and was released on a $10,000 bond. Florida state attorney Michael J. Satz filed the new charges Dec. 15. A no-bond arrest warrant was issued the same day, to come into effect if Oezdemir failed to appear in court today (Jan. 9). That warrant was subsequently vacated.
Felony battery causing great bodily harm in Florida carries a maximum sentence of 5 years incarceration. The original charge of aggravated battery carried a potential prison sentence of 15 years.
Oezdemir remains optimistic about the future. “I have a really good team around me,” he told The MMA Hour. “Believe me, everything is going to be all right…. I don’t really know about all the details, how it’s gonna happen. But definitely I’m gonna fight and I’m gonna be champion.”
Meanwhile title holder Daniel Cormier isn’t getting drawn into debate about his opponent’s legal worries. “I really don’t have any energy anymore for all these guys’ extracurriculars anymore…. I feel like I have lost years of my life dealing with the sh-t with [Jon] Jones, in terms of the arguments, the fighting, the worry, whether we’re going to fight, when we’re going to fight…. I’ve lost a lot of time and energy just wasted on things that were out of my control.”
UFC 220 airs on Pay-Per-View Saturday 01.20.2018 at 10:00 PM ET, with prelims live on Fox Sports 1. In the headline fight, champion Stipe Miocic looks to make history as the UFC’s most successful heavyweight when he faces challenger Francis N’Gannou. Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir, a light heavyweight title bout, is the co-main event.