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Crowning Moment: Aleksandar Ilic addresses his BRAVE CF 69 win

LockerRoom Team
22 February 2023

Last Saturday, when an elite group of fighters stepped out to a sold-out Stark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, for BRAVE CF 69, it provided the ideal stage for them to make memories that would last a lifetime.

As the BRAVE Serbia International Combat Week elevated the local MMA scene following a successful IMMAF World Championships, which was then followed by BRAVE CF 69 last Saturday, BRAVE Combat Federation's second visit to the country in central Europe will be remembered as a turning point in the history of the continent.

Aleksandar "Joker" Ilic, a star of the Serbian mixed martial arts scene and a fan favourite, seizes the moment with both hands and feet, thrilling spectators across Europe with his explosive strikes to Marcin Naruszczka's head and torso. The Serb has cited his split decision victory over Naruszczka at BRAVE CF 69 as the "crowning moment" of his professional career, despite the fact that "Joker" is known throughout Europe for dishing out vicious knockouts, including a well-known stoppage victory over Russian legend Alexander Shlemenko last year.

“I feel amazing. I feel like this is the crown of my career. The Alexander Shlemenko win in Russia was big for my career, as it changed my life. But I value this one the most because this was the first time I fought in my hometown, Belgrade,” says Ilić, who has been fighting internationally since 2018. “Did you see the audience? If you were inside the arena, you would know how much the fans love me. It’s like we were inside a huge sold-out football stadium,” said Ilić, who walked out to a roaring crowd before his 90-kilogram Catchweight bout with the Pole.

“BRAVE CF 69 was something else. I always give my all to represent Serbian MMA in the best way possible - good marketing, a great show, and an attractive fight. Of course, I have to thank Marcin Naruszczka for helping me make this incredible fight possible. A big thank you to BRAVE Combat Federation for making the BRAVE Serbia International Combat Week possible. Thank you to the MMA community and Serbian MMA Federation President Luka Nikolic,” added Ilić, who helped put on a “Fight of the Night” performance after a three-round barn-burner.

Ilic enthralled the crowd with his exquisite question mark kicks and shrewd shot choice. He dropped the Pole within the BRAVE CF cage at least four times. Naruszczka appeared to be out cold for most of the opening round, but the Pole's fortitude kept him going. In the second and third rounds, the tenacious Naruszczka battled back by using excellent Judo and wrestling before controlling ground-and-pound, but it was not enough to overcome Ili's damage from the first two rounds and secure a victory.


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