Antun Račić is coming off of a big win at KSW 57. The Croatian combatant defended the bantamweight championship in a unanimous decision victory over Bruno Santos.
Below are several excerpts from my recent conversation with the man who has now made history in KSW as he continues to carve a swath through their 135-pound division.
Antun Račić’s thoughts on his KSW 57 performance overall
“I am going to continue my preparations for my next fight. This fight was really hard. Really, really tough opponent. Really, really tough opponent. So he surprised me a little bit with how he defended all my strongest weapons in the first two rounds. But later I show my experience and my endurance and everything. So I’m happy because I won the fight.”
Specifics on the timeline and general details of the next Antun Račić bout
“On KSW 56, I used to fight with my old opponent. Which I repeat, before two years, Sebastian Przybysz. So after he lost to me, he’s on a winning streak of three fights. So now he deserves the rematch. And I knew that my next fight will be with him.”
“KSW 56, I cancelled because I was positive on coronavirus. Later on this event KSW 57, I also used to fight with him but then he was positive on coronavirus. So then KSW bring Bruno from Brazil to attack my title. So it was really hard. And after this fight he stepped in the cage. So, that was like officially announced my next fight. So it will be my older opponent.”
It’ll be a great fight for sure. Have you seen anything in his style that differs from the initial matchup? Are you going into this almost thinking you’re gonna be facing a completely different opponent?
Do you have, I guess, a clean slate kind of perception heading into this or is there some residual confidence because of the prior experience with them (Sebastian Przybysz)?
“Every time when I step in the cage, I work MMA. So, for him, when I fight with him before. Two and a half, three years. I think two and a half years. So that wasn’t my best fight in the KSW. I wasn’t very good in that fight; win him by unanimous decision in that fight. I was not well prepared for that fight. Because in that moment, I used to fight with one guy who is a wrestler. Then they changed my opponents.”
“He was also tall guy. 175 centimeters. Also, very good striking. Very good takedown defense and everything. But I believe in my skills, I believe in my work, hard work, and everything.”
“I see that I’m growing up as a fighter, and I’m now more motivated to defend title again. He’ll have great skills and everything but I think I will be much better fighter in this fight than I was before three days. So, it will be interesting.”
A fight I’m certainly looking forward to and I think that’s a shared sentiment among the KSW fan base. But I got to talk about just coming back after some time off there because the last time we spoke was actually ahead of your fight with Damian Stasiak. Over a year out of the cage. Obviously, the pandemic playing a huge role in all of that.
What was it like dealing with all of these COVID-19 roadblocks?
“It was really hard you know. I can’t wait to step in the cage. Again you know because this was my longest break. I was like more than one year, in preparations. Like three, four, or five times in a year, I get in a good shape then my fight is canceled. So first I used to fight in May, then I used to fight in December. And then I used to fight also in November, and finally I fight. But I was always finishing up my fight camp and then something happened. First time happened, this first lockdown.”
“Second time happened, my positive Corona test time. Third time was my opponent’s positive corona test. So every time was some problem this year. This year, it’s really crazy. And, yeah, it’s a little bit strange when you step in the cage. After one year and it was really hard to keep myself in a good position. Because I was always close to overtraining. And that was really really hard to follow this, everything. But I had a great team and they keep me in very, very good shape all the time. I was also free agent in the summer.”
Antun Račić signs new KSW deal
“There was the possibility to fight in another organization maybe. But I like KSW and everything and I decide to weigh everything and to go sign a new contract with KSW. Go to defend the title and it was really, really, really hard year. But finally I stepped in this cage. And this is my first time that I fight in arena where there is no audience. There is no people inside. It was really, really hard. Because I heard everybody in this room. I heard all voices, you know.”
“When I fight in the arena in front of, I don’t know, 15,000 people, I heard only my team…But I was ready for everything and I was really prepared for this fight. And this is what I show you after the middle of second-round. I showed that I’m much better-prepared fighter than my opponent and I just keep going. I was thinking that I’m gonna finish him but he’s a really tough guy.”
When we last spoke you had a post, when you were four and 0 in the promotion. Saying that you tied the record with the legendary Jan Blachowicz for most consecutive wins in company history. Obviously now since then you’ve kind of broken that tie and now you’re kind of leading the pack there.
What does that mean to you? I mean it seems like you have a great deal of respect for Jan Blachowicz specifically but Polish MMA as a whole. So what does it mean to you to have that distinction now in your back pocket there?
“I’m really proud that I’m in this group of people. Those are legends. Like fighting in the KSW, we are fighting all the best guys from Europe…For me the best MMA organization in Europe. So, it means everything for me.”
“Now I’m seven wins in a row, six-zero in KSW. So, I believe that I built the bantamweight division in the KSW. I’m the first-ever bantamweight KSW champion. 6-0 in the KSW. So, it means everything for me. I really like KSW as a show. It’s an amazing atmosphere there. I have a lot of Polish fans. Also, all Croatia. I now have more Croatian fans and I don’t know how to say but I think people now recognize me everywhere.”
The backdrop of, like I said you making history in KSW. Just notching the bantamweight title defense….Just constantly evolving and not resting on the laurels there.
“I never think that I’m the best. I always think that I can be much better. And this is what keeps me going. If I say one day ‘I’m good, I’m very good’, that’s the time that I’m finished, you know. Because if I have this feeling like I feel now, I’m not the best. I know that I’m not the best.”
“Also when somebody asked me ‘When you go to UFC?’ I say, I think I need to be more, better fighter. Want to go there and try to do the same like in the KSW. I can’t tell you that I’m going to be the champion there because they’re also very good bantamweight division. They’re the best fighters in the world. But I show everybody that I can fight also with the best bantamweights. Damian Stasiak was there. He fights with the best guys in the division,. He fights very good with the best guys in the division.”
“So I believe I can also go there and show good fights and everything. But now speak that I’m going to be the champion and this is for me, I’m on the ground. I don’t want to speak something that I didn’t see. Maybe in the future, I’m gonna go there and also show some good skills.”
Parting thoughts for Antun Račić
“I want to thank all my fans. All people who are watching me, who support me. Now I see that I have a bigger number of fans. All around the world, I get a lot of messages and Instagram private messages. So I see that I have really big numbers of fans. I want to thank all who support.”