Luka Jel?i? is to fight in the FFC ring again at FFC 29 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This 27-year-old MMA fighter originally from Zagreb, Croatia, coming from Dublin’s famous Straight Blast Gym is to defend the title that he won in his hometown four months ago when he defeated Italy’s Danilo Belluardo.
In his 12th professional bout he was originally to fight Moldova’s Valeriou Mircea who was forced to cancel and the champ still does not know the name of his opponent that he is to face April 22 at Tivoli Hall. However, he is ready to prove once again that he is the future of Croatian MMA.
Belt launched him to the top, but it did not sooth the hunger
“Nothing changed. This is what I worked for every day and that’s what I expect from myself. Of course I was happy. It would be a huge lie to say I did not care. It was obvious how much it means to me. But that moment lasted for a couple of minutes and then it all went back the way it used to be. And you want to feel it again.
I screamed in the ring for five seconds, I came to my corner and told my coach everything I did wrong. I got the belt, of course, I was happy. I got to my fiancée and I was exhilarated. But on the way to the locker rooms I already started to talk about the next step. I’m like that.
The fact that I will fight in the main event of the MMA part of the show and that I will defend the belt is a great scenario for me. I’m thankful to FFC they gave me this opportunity and in the end, I want everybody to know that FFC played a major role in my career.”
Work ethics remained the same
“Every day when I come home I analyze stuff, I breakdown my techniques and other fighters’ techniques. I learn, I apply, I play with it. It sounds tacky when I say I work my ass off, but that’s a part of this game. It is normal to work hard, but I also enjoy the process. I love new techniques and I love to get aggressive with my techniques. I will never hide it or deny it. It’s simply not my style and you can see it in the ring.”
SBG packed with fighters
“I started this training camp with Makwan Amirkhani, I continued with Gunnar Nelson and now I’m about to finish it with Peter Queally and Dylan Tuke, Ireland’s biggest MMA prospect. He’s a good friend of mine and I learned a lot from him. He is twenty something, but his brain is working on a totally different level. This guy is a prodigy. And I must not forger Artem Lobov who is fighting Cuba Swanson at UFC. So of all the camps I did in Ireland, I have to say this one is at the highest level and finally we are all training at the same time which is perfect for me.”
But it means John Kavanagh cannot come to Ljubljana
“John cannot make it this time. Artem is fighting a day before I do in Nashville, then I fight on Saturday in Ljubljana and then Peter Queally fights at EFN in Moscow a couple of days later. Whole team will be scattered all around the world and John is on some tour in Australia. But Dylan was in my corner when I had my first fight here in Ireland at TEF. He is also in my corner at almost every sparring session so he knows me well and we have great relationship.”
John Kavanagh & Luka Jelcic
Kavanagh satisfied with Luka’s performance in Zagreb and his FFC status
“John has seen all the promotions in the world and he has good opinion on FFC. He liked it and he is very happy with the way FFC treats me. He also likes the way FFC treats its fighters. If you add production, fights, FFC fighters often sign with UFC… Of course, it’s quite impressive.”
Mircea cancels due to an injury he sustained at Bellator 176
“When I found out that he was to fought at Bellator only two weeks before our fight I really got pissed off because that’s totally disrespectful and shitty. The kid’s an asshole. I don’t even think he’s injured, I did not see where he could sustain that injury. He won and now he’s enjoying himself now. He likes to fight cannon fodder and then he tries to fight someone better and always loses, like he lost to Cody McKenzie. He got that opportunity after McKenzie refused to fight me and screwed up my chance in Venator.
I watched his fight in Bellator and I realized he sucks which disappointed me. They just created big hype and I expected him to know something but he seemed even worse that in his previous bouts. I did not see anything impressive. Moreover, it was pathetic. Anyhow, that bum missed a chance to fight me and I don’t wanna hear about him.”
New opponent not revealed yet
“I have no idea who my next opponent is going to be and I do not care. They offered me a couple of options and I chose the best one. Now I wait for feedback and I’m not sure who I’m gonna fight, but as I said, I do not care. As long as they give me an opponent so I can prove who and what I am. I don’t care who it is. I know who I train with and how much I train. I’m in better shape than in my last fight. I’m getting better and better after every match, my weight is fine and I feel awesome.”
SBG’s “anytime, anywhere” philosophy
“As I always aid, I train for myself, it has nothing to do with SBG. But in the end, one of the reasons I opted for this team is because it suits me the best. From the way they fight to their philosophy and fight approach.
I’ve always been like that. But before SBG no one took care of my career because people have to work and pay their bills and no one has time for some kid screwing around. That’s why I blame no one but myself for being a thug my whole life. When I came here I knew exactly what it’s gonna be like and I always had that approach.
I work on myself and on my techniques because I like that and I’m blessed with all the things I’m getting back from it. I have everything because of MMA, I fixed my financial situation and my life improved because of MMA.”
Jel?i?’s plan was to sign with UFC by now, but he is not in a hurry
“I’m not in a hurry to ink a UFC deal. I have nine wins out of which eight via stoppage. So it’s 90% I will finish the fight. I know I’m an attractive fighter. I’m violent but I’m also skilled. And fight fans love both violence and skill. So I’m not stressed about it and I will continue to fight. They will call me eventually.”