Following a loss in his only fight of 2013, Serbian prospect Bojan “Veli” Velickovic rebounded earlier this year with a win over Nikolay Aleksakhin this past June.
Heading into the bout, Velickovic made a move down in weight, and it was that which was foremost on his mind against Aleksakhin.
“The fight with Nikolay was my first fight at 170 pounds, so my biggest concern was making the weight,” Velickovic told MMAWeekly.com. “But my whole camp was very good and I made 170 and won my fight against a really good Russian fighter.
“I did two months of training here at American Top Team and at the end of the camp I had a small meniscus tear and went back to Serbia for two weeks to see my family and get used to the time difference. I trained with the team I usually do when I’m back home and got really good results with all the training.”
Velickovic explained that his move down to welterweight came after his experience with the common practice of cutting weight in American MMA compared what he was used to overseas.
“In Europe, I can compete in 185 pounds because they do not cut weight like they do here,” said Velickovic. “Now Europe is becoming more like in U.S., but in U.S. they have cut weight for a long time and it’s no big deal.
“I figured I should definitely try to go back to 170 pounds because when I fight with a guy at 170 pounds I feel much more competitive. I’m glad I did because I like to be leaner and more professional, and it makes me more focused about the whole strategy of the fight.”
Velickovic (9-2) will look to pick up his second straight win of the year when he faces off against Gilbert Smith (9-3) this Friday in Broomfield, Colo., at RFA 20 in a feature bout.
“All the fights that I won, I won by doing what I’m best at,” said Velickovic. “Good movement in the cage, position control, and I always try to mix things up a little bit and go for the takedowns and do all aspects of MMA.
“I do not want to be boring and work for one particular thing. I like all aspects of MMA and just enjoy the fight. Wherever the fight goes, I want to be better at all aspects (than Smith).”
While Velickovic is in no hurry to take the step to the next level, he feels a win over Smith will get him one step closer to it and help him realize a dream he’s sacrificed so much for.
“I left back home in Serbia and my family and friends and ended my relationship because I want to achieve my goals and dreams of becoming a UFC fighter,” said Velickovic. “I gave up a lot of things and came here all by myself and I want to know why I gave up everything.
“I’m not too worried that it’s going to be after this fight or two or three fights, I’m just looking forward to winning this fight against Gilbert and we will see after that.”
(Photo courtesy of WFC.si)