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Mirsad Bektic (13-1) is a mixed martial arts combatant who plies his trade in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight division. For his next appearance, the 28-year-old will be pitted against Josh Emmett at UFC Fight Night 155, which takes place at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, on July 13.
As we approach the pivotal contest, here are five things you might not know about Bektic.
He has experienced the horrors of warBektic was born in 1991 in Yugoslavia, in what is now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina today. As the country was embroiled in a bloody war, Bektic, who was 3 at the time, migrated west to Italy along with his mother and siblings. The family later moved to Germany before relocating to the U.S. when Bektic was 9, where he has remained since.
The war that devastated his homeland claimed a number of the pugilist’s relatives, including his maternal grandparents.
He started out in karateBektic’s first foray into combat sports came in the form of karate. It was three years after his arrival in the U.S. that the 12-year-old began practising the Japanese martial art.
Today, the Bosnian’s origins in the sport manifest itself in fleet footwork, an impeccable sense of timing and the ability to launch quick, blitzkrieg-style attacks with his hands and feet.
He won his first 11 boutsAt the age of 18, Bektic began competing in amateur MMA. He would go 4-0 in the unpaid ranks, with all those wins coming by way of stoppage via punches. The fledgling fighter’s success continued after turning professional as he won his first seven contests. The uber prospect’s remarkable run culminated in him being signed by the UFC in early 2014.
Bektic emerged victorious from his first four fights with the Las Vegas-based promotion, and in doing so, became one of the featherweight division’s leading contenders.
His only loss came in a match he was dominatingBektic boasted an unblemished 11-0 record when he fought Darren Elkins at UFC 209 in March 2017. The confident, young combatant was in inspired form from the get go. In the first frame, Bektic executed a takedown and unleashed unrelenting ground and pound which left his opponent’s face a bloodied mess.
Elkins survived to the bell, only to be met with an onslaught of strikes in the second, interspersed with further abuse in the form of ground and pound when the action hit the mat again. But the course of the fight shifted in the final stanza. After unleashing strikes against the side of the cage, Elkins uncorked a right round house kick to the head of a tired Bektic, which saw him tumble head first to the mat. The clash, which was considered one of the comeback fights of the year, remains the only time that Bektic has tasted defeat.
He used to be a bodybuilderAfter a couple of years training in karate, the teenage Bektic grew tired of the sport and began focusing his energy on bodybuilding. The then 130-pound high school student became somewhat obsessed with his new interest, and was soon maintaining a strict diet of 4,000 calories a day. He later put on approximately 30 pounds and competed in a show.
Today, Bektic is adamant that his pumping iron days helped him learn discipline. “I did the whole nutrition program,” he said in one interview, “And learned how to be very strict.”