More from Goran Reljic:
On His First Effort in the UFC: “Honestly, I think my first performance in (the) UFC was OK. I think I performed OK. I displayed a little bit in everything but I wasn't happy in my technique and I didn't display everything I had. So, I'm going to do it now.”
On His Improvements While in Recovery: “Things happen for a reason. I'm a much smarter athlete now than I was before. I'm not overtraining myself. I don't go crazy anymore in trainings. I know when it's time to stop in trainings. I hurt myself because I was pushing too hard. When I train I like to go 100 percent and you can't always train 100 percent. You have to look after your body. You have to look after how you recover: dieting, stretching, yoga, meditating. I do all that now. I had some good people around me back home in Croatia. I have a very good teacher at home that worked with me on some stuff. Like I said I'm much more calm in my head. I know what I want and I know how to get there. I don't rush into anything and I'm a much smarter athlete, that's one thing that I can say so like I said, things happen for a reason so I don't know. Maybe it was meant to be. I have no idea.”
Thought Process Coming Back to the UFC: “Not many people come back from an injury like that, but like I said, I had good healthcare. I did some stuff. You just feel when your body can do something and you feel when it can't so I felt I could. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life thinking to myself, ‘What if? What if I try? What if I didn't try?’ Doctors told me that it’s not safe but I'm the type of guy that follows my instincts and my instincts told me to go on and to come back. I think that's where I belong. I like to fight. I like to train. That's all that really matters to me. I don't care about anything else. That's all that matters.
Why Surgery Was Necessary: “If you feel the pain all the time and you don't feel good, the back is something you don't want to mess with. You could end up in a wheelchair. It's not like a knee or elbow or any other injury. It's the worst injury that can happen to you. Everything is there. Your back, your spine is your life. If you mess up with that then you're done. Quite frankly, I'm not the type of person that would like to end up in a wheelchair. I think I would go crazy and I just felt that I could do it. That's it.”
Where Does He Stand in the UFC Middleweight Division? “I've got to be honest with you. I don't really care for that. I think the UFC management and the managers are there to think. My job is to fight. I respect every fighter that there is in my division. I respect everyone who ever stepped in that Octagon. All the fighters are the same to me and quite frankly I see myself as a decent fighter but that's about it.”
What's His Ultimate Goal? “I would like to keep that a secret. People have always thought that I was weird and a little crazy ever since I was a kid. I had some weird goals in my head. I don't really like to talk about it too much. I enjoy fighting. I enjoy doing what I do. That's the ultimate goal for me. Stay there, give everything I have and in the end one day I'm going to say I gave my best. I really did everything I could. What happens I would think happens for a reason. I'm kind of a weird guy but I have my beliefs and I just like to believe I gave everything I have and I used my talent properly. I invested all of my talent into this. If I lose I'm going to say I lost because the guy was better. Simple as that. I'm not going to complain. I'm not going to make excuses when someone beats me. I'm going to say I lost because the guy was better. Nothing else. I have the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to go as far as I can go. That's about it. The goal is to just go as far as I can go.”
Whom Do You Want to Emulate? “I enjoy watching Georges St. Pierre. There's a whole bunch of fighters I like. I enjoy watching Anderson Silva. Rodrigo Nogueira is actually one of my favorite fighters. He's the reason I got into this sport is because he was like a role model for me. I was watching him when I was a kid when I was 18 or 19 years old when he was fighting in Pride. I was always admiring to him and his capacity of taking all those punches and kept getting back out of the knockout and still be able to make his opponent. There's a whole bunch of people I look at as role models and I've been trying to not emulate. But I learn a lot from those people. Rich Franklin is also my favorite. I have a lot of people I look up to.”