By Caoilte de Barra
Serbia’s Vojislav Simicic became the first Serbian athlete to win at the 2022 World Championships on day one of the competition.
Simicic faced Sweden’s Raham Kafaei in Cage 1, where he came back from a tough first round to outwrestle his opponent for two rounds and was even close to securing a submission finish at one point.
Following his bout, Simicic expressed his delight at winning in front of a home crowd:
“I’m very happy to be in the next round and a part of the national team of Serbia. It is great to be the first Serbian fighter to win at the World Championships. It’s a big motivation for me to win in front of a home crowd. This tournament is the peak of my amateur career, and it means a lot to Serbian MMA.”
Simicic is looking to be one of many athletes from Serbia to medal in the competition but isn’t looking too far ahead and taking it one bout at a time.
“This experience is amazing. This is the second competition because I also did the SuperCup in Bahrain. I’m just taking this fight by fight and want to do my best. I also want the best for the national team.”
The promotion of the event has been surreal, with posters and advertisements all over Belgrade as the federation hopes to grow the popularity of the sport in the nation. Simicic added that he hopes that both himself and the national squad can play a role in building the profile of the sport.
“I want to help the sport become better recognized in Serbia. That is the main goal of every participant in the national team Serbia, to create a better picture for MMA in Serbia.”
Following an impressive start to the competition, Simici will face Israel’s Moshe Aladi in a highly anticipated bout tomorrow. Aladi is coming off a silver medal-winning run at the 2022 European Championships.
Hosted by the Serbian MMA Federation, the two amateur tournaments are to take place at Štark Arena, in Novi Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia, from 11 to 17 February. IMMAF’s OTT platform, immaf.tv, will stream all bouts for fans all over the world.