Aleksandar Rakic was on the fringe of the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings coming into his co-headlining bout with Jimi Manuwa on Saturday. Now he’s just outside the Top 10.
Rakic sent the capacity crowd inside the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, into a frenzy when he destroyed Manuwa in just 42 seconds at UFC Fight Night 153. The Austrian shattered Manuwa’s consciousness with a crushing left head kick that would make Mirko Filipovic proud, and it was something he has worked on tirelessly for many years.
“This was a short fight and I do this combination a lot because of my kickboxing background,” Rakic said after his triumph. “I worked on that left kick after the right uppercut. I guess I hit him in the right place at the right time. It was the beginning of the end.”
It was the end, all right. Manuwa fell violently and lifelessly onto his back, his head bouncing off the canvas like a basketball. It was the biggest win of Rakic’s MMA career thus far, one that has seen him win a dozen consecutive fights after dropping his pro debut. He entered Saturday’s bout on a roll after dispatching Devin Clark in the first round in his previous Octagon appearance. Rakic said he was excited when he found out that “Poster Boy” would be his opponent at UFC Fight Night 153.
“When I got the name Jimi Manuwa, I was happy that UFC gave me a ranked opponent,” he said. “But in another way, I know Jimi for a long time, we trained together and I respect him as a fighter and as a person. But this is all business.”
Suddenly, the UFC’s light heavyweight division has become flooded with stellar fighters and amazing potential matchups. Rakic is still quite a ways from landing a potential shot at the 205-pound title, and he knows that. However, now that he’s about to break into the Top 10, there are seemingly endless possibilities for the Gym 23 product, many of which could be “Fight of the Night”-type of battles. Opponents like Ilir Latifi, Corey Anderson, Glover Teixeira and Johnny Walker are all hovering around the same rankings spot as Rakic, and he’s down to fight any of them.
“Now, I think I’ll take his (Manuwa) place in the rankings,” he said with a smile. “He is No. 11. I’ll take his place and face a few ranked guys to get to the top. I’m a big challenge for these guys and I’m coming. I don’t have any specific name in mind, but hopefully on Monday I’ll be No. 11 and I’ll be focused on the 10 fighters who are ranked above me and climb to the top.”