Ognjen Topic may not be a household name in the martial arts world, but the American-based Serbian Muay Thai kickboxer plans on putting that right.
The 32-year-old has won a host of championships already in his career, including the IFK World Lightweight Title and the Lion Fight Lightweight World Championship. But now, he has his sights set on an even bigger prize.
On Saturday, 12 May in Jarkarta, Topic will face off against Stergos “Greek Dynamite” Mikkios in a bantamweight Muay Thai bout at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY. The bout is part of the newly-launched ONE Super Series, which features the world’s best exponents of the striking martial arts.
And with the target of global recognition – and eventually a ONE Super Series world title – in his sights, Topic says he’s looking to produce a standout performance and build the anticipation ahead of his next matchup.
“If I want to build up a bigger name for myself, I have no choice but to make a statement in this fight,” he stated.
“I am 100 percent going to put on a great performance that people are going to enjoy. I am glad that ONE Championship is putting Muay Thai on this platform, so in order for me to make a bigger name for myself, I have to go out there and make a statement.”
Topic will face a willing dance partner in Jakarta. Mikkios is a Triumph Kombat Champion and brings a heavy-handed, come-forward approach to his contests.
But Topic admits he hasn’t spent much time scouting the 28-year-old, and says he prefers to concentrate on his own skills, rather than concerning himself with the offensive qualities of his opponent.
“I do not know much about him,” he said.
“I do not really study fights of my opponents. If I find them on YouTube, I will check out like a minute or so of how he fights. That is more than enough for me.
“I just need to get down the rhythm or the style of the fighter, and that is pretty much it. From there, I can go through everything else. My coaches are the ones who are coming up with the game plan. I did not really know about him as much. I am just taking it as it comes.”
Topic’s penchant for hard work in the gym comes from his father, whom he watched travel between America and Serbia throughout the 1990s as he worked a construction job to help provide for his family.
Luckily, he won an immigration lottery that gave the family the chance to leave war-torn Serbia, and start a new life in New Jersey, USA. It was a complete life-changer.
And Topic has resolved to put the same level of work into his chosen vocation as he saw his father put into his.
“I am always going to be working hard,” he says.
“I am not taking any fighter for granted, because at the end of the day, anybody can be taken out. You look at some of these fights and you think this guy has no business being in the ring with another fighter, and then, boom, that fighter gets knocked out, because maybe he took the opponent for granted.
“Those are lessons I have learned from other guys. For me, it does not really matter. I am still going to be training as hard as I can because, in my mind, he can put me out.”