By Ross Patterson
The Balkans Champions are a wildcard team in the inaugural MMA SuperCup. They’ve picked the best athletes from all over the region to compete for the massive cash prizes on offer. They’ve drawn Kazakhstan in the first round and are confident in their success.
Following a hugely successful World Championships in Abu Dhabi, the best 8 teams will compete for unprecedented cash prizes in a knock-out tournament. The event will be hosted by BRAVE CF as part of BRAVE International Combat week, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Federation who finishes first wins a cash prize of $100,000 US, second place $75,000, and third $50,000. These huge prizes will be invested to develop the next generation of mixed martial artists.
Speaking ahead of the SuperCup Team Balkan Champions representative, Dejan Srdić, said:
“It is a true pleasure to see that BRAVE Combat Federation and IMMAF united to create such a magnificent event in the form of the MMA SuperCup. BRAVE International Combat week, just like the Kingdom of Bahrain, is a true symbol of all the people that love and appreciate combat sports in a passionate and adequate way – so it will be an honour for Team Balkan Champions to showcase their skills at this tournament which will bring joy to all the fans and participants of the MMA world.” He added, “The possibility of winning the prizes would be a huge step forward regarding the development of amateur MMA in any of the participating countries – especially the region of Balkans where amateur MMA is finally advancing to a higher level.”
The wildcards may not be favourites, but Dejan sees this as an advantage.
“Team Balkan Champions is one of the wildcard teams and we see that as our strength, not as a weakness. Sometimes the best impressions are left by the contenders that are coming from the background. The MMA SuperCup is designed to pit the strongest amateur MMA national teams in the world against each other and that is how we feel, as one of the strongest.”
The Balkan Champions have drawn Kazakhstan, the 3rd ranked country in the world. They are a notoriously strong team and will be a tough test for The Balkans Champions.
They won a total of 23 medals in the World Championships in January, 4 gold, 7 silver and 12 bronze.
Dejan Srdić said, “Team Kazakhstan is one of the leading teams in the IMMAF world championships, a team that has secured a big number of medals over the years, but Team Balkan Champions are not scared by the numbers – we respect them, but we are also more than ready to challenge them.”
The Kazakhstan Head Coach, Bayan Zhangalov also said, “In the first match, we are set to face the Balkans Team. We expect a surprise from the Europeans, but we are ready for it.”
The IMMAF SuperCup will be an extremely exciting competition, with some of the greatest amateur mixed martial artists on the planet competing for huge cash prizes. The Balkans Champions are a wildcard, but don’t count them out.
The Balkans team boast plenty of accolades across MMA and other Martial Arts. The young team may not have much experience in IMMAF competition but are versed in the sport and may well produce some upsets at the SuperCup. The full team is as follows.
Miha Frlic, from Slovenia, was a 2021 IMMAF World Cup Senior Bronze medallist in the Heavyweight division.
Voja Simičić is a 4-time Serbian National champion, 2-time Balkan champion and 8-time grappling champion. The 21-year-old will be competing in the Featherweight division.
Vuk Lekić is a Serbian National MMA Champion and the National Wrestling Champion. He will be competing at Middleweight.
Dževad Baltic is also a Serbian National MMA Champion and National Grappling Cup Champion. He is 21 and competing at Light-Heavyweight.
Danilo Ristic is18-years-old, the Serbian MMA Junior champion (also winner of best fighter of the tournament), a 2x Fight Games International Silver medallist and a national Tae-Kwon-Doe champion.
Vojo Katanovic is a Karate Black Belt and National Champion. He’s 19 and competing in the Bantamweight division.
Radovan Lukovic is 25, came second in the Macedonian Freestyle wrestling open and is in the Welterweight division.
Nikolic Sandra was the 2019 MMA Balkan Champion and is a Bantamweight.
Dejan added, “Keep an eye out for all of our young lions, they will show what Balkans are made of!”
The MMA SuperCup takes place between March 8 to March 12, during BRAVE International Combat Week, with BRAVE CF 57 taking place on Friday 11 and an Opening Ceremony on 8 March. Watch the action live onIMMAF.TV