Scouting the Globe: The Five Best Prospects From Croatia

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Robert Soldic and Du Plessis
Du Plessis vs. Soldic Credit: KSW

During this MMA hiatus, we’ve taken to scouting world and selecting five favorite prospects from each country for the most part. In this edition, we take a look at some of the top fighting prospects coming out of Croatia. There aren’t exactly a lot of well-known fighters from the country currently, but Mikro Filipovic (Cro-Cop) is easily the most famous fighter from the nation.

Welterweight, Roberto Soldic (17-3)

Roberto Soldic has beaten some stiff competition including Lewis Long (16-5), Borys Mańkowski (19-7-1), and Dricus Du Plessis (12-2), winning five titles in his career including the KSW title. Soldic is easily one of the best welterweights on the global scene. Soldic is always coming forward and always looking for the finish in a controlled chaos manner. Soldic has heavy hands and a very accurate head kick, which he has dropped many opponents with. It’s the constant volume he throws paired with his speed that allows him to do so well. Soldic is always throwing punches behind kicks and visa-versa, showcasing his great striking abilities. He’s been a KSW mainstay for a while now.

Heavyweight, Ante Delija (17-3)

A protege of MMA legend Mirko Cro-Cop, Ante Delija is a well-known fighter who’s fought for the likes of PFL, KSW, Rizin, and M-1. Despite all his fights in various promotions, he’s still young at only 29-years old. Especially for a heavyweight. Unlike his mentor Cro-Cop, Delija is a dangerous guy once it’s on the mat. He has no doubt learned from Cro-Cop as well, as he has some solid kickboxing and power in his hands. Delija is a physical guy who powers his foes down to the mat. “Walking Trouble” is indeed trouble on top as he has ferocious ground and pound. His grappling is no doubt pretty darn good and his ground punches are active, heavy, and he attacks the body as well.

Light-heavyweight, Ivan Erslan (8-0, 1 NC)

Newer KSW signee Ivan Erslan made an impression in his promotional debut, finishing a good fighter in Darwin Rodriguez. Erslan is easily the best Croatian 205 pound fighter outside a big promotion. Lately he has fought decent fighters, at least decent enough to test his skills. On the feet he is dangerous with power in his hands, but he is more of a threat on the mat. His ground and pound is by far his best weapon — it’s a fight changer.

Middleweight, Ivan Cosic (6-0)

Ivan Cosic is a bright prospect that has looked very impressive at only 22-years-old. He currently fights for Berkut Young Eagles, though he is on a bit of a hiatus. Other than one of his fights going the distance he has finished all his fights. Impressively, all of his finishes have come in the first round. Cosic is very aggressive, he hits hard, has incredible takedown defense, and is really good at grabbing the guillotine out of nowhere.

Middleweight, Dani Barbir (4-0, 1 NC)

Croatia doesn’t have a lot of prospects if we’re being honest. Dani Babir just made the list as he’s still very young in his career and still very green. That said, he has shown a lot of potential — enough to get my attention. On the feet, he looks good. He has good footwork, has good kickboing, quick hand speed, and a fire one-two he throws. Babir is athletic and explosive, as he has shown so far in his career. He hasn’t really displayed too much on that wrestling side, but his grappling is good, especially in scrambles. Still very green but I have a hunch he’s going to be a good one.

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