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UFC champ Daniel Cormier names Volkan Oezdemir as next title challenger


So much for due process.

Newly re-crowned light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) is moving on from Jon Jones (21-1-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) and lining up his next fight. Apparently, he’s cutting out the UFC’s matchmaking middlemen too.

Cormier announced today that he’s conducted a poll, and the surging Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is the opponent fans want to see (via Twitter):

In theory, Cormier’s schedule would be held up by the resolution of his saga with Jones. The now-former champ has yet to resolve his case with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, and the California State Athletic Commission, which overturned his knockout win over Cormier at UFC 214 when a failed steroid test was confirmed.

Cormier urged fans to give Jones due process, and even told them to let up after his “B” sample delivered bad news. But with the ex-champ facing a potential four-year ban, he’s shifting focus to his second reign as champion.

That’s where Oezdemir, who’s No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings, comes in. The Swiss striking phenom has burst onto the scene at 205 pounds, knocking out top contenders Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa to get into the title mix. After knocking out Manuwa at UFC 214, he called for a title shot.

Before Jones, who’s still ranked No. 1, popped positive, Oezdemir called out two-time title challenger and No. 5-ranked Alexander Gustafsson to “increase the value of the next title shot” and decide the “real king of Europe.” After a knockout of onetime title challenger Glover Teixeira in May, Gustafsson was the most credible threat to Oezdemir’s No. 1 contender’s spot.

Now, it’s a whole new world. But here’s the thing about those UFC middlemen: They have to send the bout contracts that make your poll official. We’ll see if No. 2-ranked Cormier gets one.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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