As anticipation builds ever further for the inaugural MMA Super Cup, hosted at BRAVE International Combat Week in the Kingdom of Bahrain, representatives from each nation who were present have been giving their insights into strategy, prospects and selection for the tournament at a panel discussion hosted by BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid.
The President of the Serbian MMA Federation, Luka Nikolic, opened up about the amateur mixed martial arts scene in the Balkans region, and the athletes selection process for MMA Super Cup.
Speaking about the difficulty of the selection process for the MMA Super Cup, Nikolic said:
“That was a very hard job for us, because the Balkans region has too many countries, and a couple of languages, so everything is very difficult. I wanted to include Croatia, but Croatia is not part of the Balkans and so on, so we were looking at videos, getting information from clubs, the gyms, and then we sat on one table and decided who was going and who was not. Maybe, we made a mistake wanting to make a dream team but it was really hard because someone from a totally different country tells you this guy is really good, you should put him in, but how can you decide, it’s really hard. So we were sitting, watching videos, and getting information, and then we decided.”
As a result, the Balkans Team line-up consists of reigning national MMA champions led by the 2021 IMMAF World Cup Prague Bronze Heavyweight medalist Miha Frlic.
Nikolic also shined a spotlight on how much growth the amateur MMA scene has seen in the last number of years in the Balkans. When asked about this, Nikolic said:
“To be honest, we have been working with amateur fighters for 8 years till now, I expect that we will get really good results. I don’t want to say we would be the first or something like that, but definitely, we will be a very good team with other teams.”
Nevertheless, and contrary to Team Ireland, the Balkans Team were not as lucky in the female divisions. Nikolic attributes that to the still developing female scene of mixed martial arts.
“Our only problem is girls,” says Nikolic. “It’s very difficult to find good girls. This year, we started with a girls plan of developments of MMA, so we will check them if they are working really well or not, because the girls in our country are probably coming from boxing or karate or something like that and we are trying to work with them on wrestling and BJJ and so on, so the girls are like for me, something new, and I’m really curious how they will get in the cage, whether they will do a good job or not, and for the guys, I know the guys, the guys are working 5-6 years in amateur fights, so we will see that the guys perfect.”
Regardless, Nikolic was very optimistic about the decisions the Balkans Team has made in regards to the participating athletes.
“I think we made a good decision, we will see at the event. This is the first event that we are attending because we didn’t have an opportunity to do it, this is the first time so we are working really hard to get the best of the best guys in the Balkans team, so we will see, we will get good results, I cannot promise anything, but we really did a good job, and that job was really difficult for us.”
It will be very intriguing to see just what the Balkans team has in store for the MMA Super Cup, but if their confidence is anything to go by, the Balkans team will be harboring very high hopes indeed.
The MMA Super Cup 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. BRAVE International Combat Week will be broadcasted on bravecftv.com.