Las Vegas, NV — Aleksandar Rakic is well aware of the opportunities that can present themselves in pandemic era MMA.
And with that in mind, he has prepared for a five round fight at UFC 259 this weekend.
Rakic (13-2) is tasked with the hard-hitting Thiago Santos in the opening fight of the PPV card Saturday night. But the event is headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz, and Rakic has kept an eye on that fight as well. Just in case someone should fall out.
“I had it in my mind, and my coaches told me also, with this COVID thing, maybe you’re going to step up,” the 29-year old light heavyweight told media outlets including Cageside Press at a media day promoting UFC 259 on Wednesday. “I said ‘Okay, perfect. I’m going to do it.’ Anyways I’m going to be ready for five rounds, I did a hell of a camp, and we’re ready to go.”
With the exit of names like Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, and the emergence of Rakic, Jiri Prochazka, Magomed Ankalaev and others at light heavyweight, it feels as if the 205lb division is going through a metamorphosis. As Rakic himself put it, “the new era is coming.”
“Soon we are going to take over, and one of those guys is going to fight for the title,” he suggested. And his own title shot could come sooner rather than later with the right showing his weekend.
“Absolutely. I need to make a great performance on Saturday, like I do always. I need to let the UFC know that I’m coming for the title, and I want it so bad,” Rakic said of the potential of fighting for gold in the near future.
He also believes that his placement on the UFC 259 card might be related to that. “I think maybe the UFC [booked the fight on the same card] on purpose. I win against Santos, and I’m going to be like, in first row seating watching potentially. It’s a very good move from the UFC.”
Of course, if Israel Adesanya wins the title this weekend, all bets are off. Rakic could see it going either way. “My thoughts are 50-50, but I think if it goes the distance, Adesanya is gonna win. And I think if it comes to the clinch and the grappling area, Jan is gonna take this in his favor. He’s a strong dude, and he’s probably going to have more, more, more weight than Israel. So let’s see how Israel defends those takedowns and everything else.”
If he had is way, it would be the undefeated middleweight champ that he would fight for 205lb gold. “Honestly I would like to fight Israel. He’s the bigger name,” noted Rakic. “All due respect to Jan, he’s the champion. [But Israel Adesanya] is the bigger name, he’s the middleweight champion. To fight him, to win against him and take all his legacy would be great.”
Watch the full UFC 259 media day scrum with Aleksandar Rakic above. The event takes place this Saturday, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.