Filip Pejić: I am two fights from the UFC, I’m not interested in Antun Račić
This weekend at FFC 28 in Athens Filip Pejić will face a new test in catchweight division against Greek fighter Alexis Savvidis. In an interview with Fight Site, Filip revealed what happened between his two FFC performances.
After a very difficult bout with James Brum, Filip Pejić managed to defend his belt at FFC 27 at the Zagreb Arena. Now he is to face a new opponent but the pressure will not be the same since he is convinced he is better prepared ahead of this match with young Greek prospect Alexis Savvidis.
Last time in Zagreb we talked in the locker room right after your match. You sustained an injury during the bout and you could barely get up. What was it about? How serious was is and how long did it take you to recover?
I had a muscle rupture and it took me a month to fully recover. I was not able to walk properly and I could not train MMA, but I did train a bit. I was working on my strength and stuff like that. In the end it turned out to be a really serious injury caused by a single kick. It was the first serious kick he landed in that match. I thought it would not be that serious but I went to see the doctor and it was worse than I thought. Of course, there are always injuries, always some little bones that break, but now I’m completely healthy and I will enter this match in my turbo mode. My preps were difficult and brutal. That’s now behind me and now I just have to cut the rest of the weight.
What did you concentrate the most on during these preps? In what area did you advance? What did you learn from your match with Brum?
We mostly worked on my footwork and counter punches. This is the fight I learned the most from. I did three rounds with excellent fighter and this is surely the biggest success of my career. After the match you always find some details that you think you could do better and then you see what you have to work on. I worked on my boxing skills. I have to use that more because of my reach. I have longer arms than most of my opponents and that is my huge advantage. I also worked on my footwork and I planned to show it in my bout with Brum. But he landed this kick on me very early in the fight and I was not able to use my legs that much. I believe I improved a lot.
Did the fact that you will fight in catchweight help you this time because you will have less kilos to cut? In Zagreb you needed extra time to meet the weight.
I always cut a lot. I normally weigh 77 kg and two kilos mean a lot to me. In Zagreb I had also problems with scales that did not work well so I was stressed out, but it turned out OK. This fight is also some kind of a break from it all. I asked FFC to give me a fight in catchweight so I don’t have to cut that much. I personally hoped for 70 kg. In three moths I had to cut to 66 twice which is not very healthy.
Your opponent is very young. He is 21 but he already has 20 pro bouts under his belt and a score of 14-6. That’s impressive.
That does not bother me. James Brum was much stronger and more experienced that him, but you never know. We will know when the fight starts. He might turn out to be much better than that. I do not underestimate anyone and I’m ready for everything.
What are his strongest points and his biggest advantages?
His strongest point is definitely his ground game. Of course, I will try to fight in stand-up but I have no problems with ground game either. We have a couple of game plans and we’ll see what happens. I definitely polished my skills and there is not bad position for me in this fight.
Is there any news on your potential match with former FFC champion Antun Račić? Croatian MMA fans definitely want to see that match. Many people would be more than interested in it.
I called him out and I asked them to give me a match against him, but he refused. What am I supposed to do now? Now he is not in his prime anymore and I am. I was very disappointed when he refused that match. I will do a fight or two and then I will fight in the UFC again. Račić is not on some impressive level now and he stands for nothing. He refused me, now I refuse him. I don’t want to give him this chance and there are better fighters I’d like to fight. I even plan to call out one of them after my match in Athens. And he’s definitely bigger fighter than some Antun Račić.
Your first UFC match was, above all, a big lesson. If given a new opportunity you’d probably be readier since now you have this experience behind you.
My matches reflect the fact that I learned a lot from that experience. Mostly from that defeat and from the fact that I had to cut too much. That’s why I performed that bad and why I lost. I believe I need two wins now to seek a new deal with UFC. I showed I improved and it was obvious that I was not myself then. That weight cut just ate me up and my brain did not work at all. Next time I will do better.