Aleksandar Rakic returns to the UFC octagon this weekend for his first spot on a pay-per-view card against Devin Clark at UFC 231.
Speaking to us here at Pundit Arena MMA, Aleksandar expressed his excitement for what he sees as his opportunity to make a serious statement of intent about his standing at 205lbs.
At 26-years-old, time is most definitely on his side but despite his relative inexperience at fighting in these massive shows, he maintains that it’s all the same to him once the cage doors close.
“Oh man, I am so excited to be here. I have been working my ass off to compete on this card, on this level. I am very excited and well-prepared. I can’t wait to step into the octagon on Saturday night.
“When I step into the octagon I am fighting in front of five people so it doesn’t bother me to fight in front of so many people. I know what I can do. It doesn’t matter if I’m fighting in front of my fans or if I’m fighting in front of my coaches and friends.”
Rakic came into the UFC with a ferocious reputation that was evidenced by his eight straight finishes but now, two fights into his run, he has found himself on the winning side of the scorecards twice – which according to him – has allowed him to earn invaluable experience.
In his last outing at UFC Hamburg against Justin Ledet, the Austrian managed to take home his own slice of history.
Breaking the UFC light-heavyweight record for strike differential with a massive +235 (263 landed to 28 absorbed) – he enters his next bout with an added level of confidence after earning 30 minutes of time in the octagon
“The last fight. It went the distance and it meant more to me than a KO because I broke a UFC record for striking differential, so this record means a lot to me and the experience – nobody can take it from me.
“After my fight in Hamburg I was calling out some top-15 guys but I didn’t get it. Now I’m fighting Devin Clark, who is one step to the top-15 and then to the top. I am more than ready and I know I am for real. I am here to make a statement.
“I am not just here to stay and to fight, I am here for real and I want this gold.”
As for his opponent, Devin Clark, Rakic seems to have confidence in his ability to get the job, confidence that comes through solid preparation.
This time, he took a six-week stint at ATT in Coconut Creek, Florida, where he had the opportunity to train with the former Strikeforce and RIZIN champion, King Muhammad Lawal.
“He is going to have to think twice if he wants to close the distance and clinch with me. If we clinch I am ready. I trained in American Top Team in Florida and my main sparring partner has been King Mo, an awesome wrestler and he has helped a lot in the wrestling and the clinch.
“I think [Clark] is a strong wrestler who tries to push forward with takedowns. But in the first-round he pushes really hard and then he gets tired. He has never faced a striker like me.
“I am ready for his game but he is not ready for mine.
“The fight will start, he will eat some punches. He will try to clinch, I will defend it. Second round I will finish him with a KO or a TKO.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena