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KSW 51’s Bakocevic ready to eat Mankowski’s punches like ‘F-ing Tic Tacs’ and become champ by 2020

Bakocevic returns to the promotion for the first time in four years this weekend and faces Polish fan-favourite, Borys Mankowski.

Vaso Bakocevic

‘The Psychopath’ is returning to KSW with the goal of finishing the business he started four years ago. And this time he’s determined not to let anyone stand in his way.

Fans of the leading European promotion haven’t seen Vaso Bakocevic (39-18-1) compete inside the KSW cage since 2015 where he lost by third round submission to Anzor Azhiev. After that bout, the Montenegro-born fighter travelled around Europe competing regularly. But he found himself unable to put a run of good results together. However, Bakocevic hit a turning point in June 2017, when he fought four times in as many months—winning all of those bouts in the process.

That was the starting point of the best run of his career, and a wave he’s still riding as he heads into his bout in Croatia on Saturday night.

Bakocevic has won 13 of his last 14 fights—the only loss coming to former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkovin, a contest above his natural weight class. Because of that, the ‘Psychopath’ believes now is the perfect time to show KSW what he is capable of. He’s sure that the fans will see a much improved version of himself, compared to when he last competed in the promotion.

“Back in 2014 when I first signed with KSW, I had a short notice fight against the lightweight champion who I almost beat,” said Bakocevic. “I just didn’t have the experience to fight at that level in my younger days. However, now that it’s five years later, I’ve got around 35 more fights under my belt. It is now the perfect time for me to fight in an organization like KSW. I’m not just coming here to be a f-cking journeyman, I’m here to be the f-cking champ.”

“The last time I fought here was at KSW 33, and I competed at 145lbs—so the weight cut was f-cking killing me!” Bakocevic continued. “After that, I climbed up to lightweight, welterweight, and even fought as high as middleweight—where I am still undefeated. I’m 14-0 at middleweight, but I think 155lbs is perfect for me going forwards. When you watch my fights where I’m not cutting as much weight, I perform a lot better. I’ve learned about weight cuts in the last few years, as I’ve travelled the world. I am very professional now, so when I’m in fight week, I am just a few kilos over the limit.”

The man from the Car Dusan Silni fight team first began training MMA in 2008, but shortly thereafter found himself prison. Bakocevic was, self-admittedly, a very problematic kid. And when he left jail, he knew he needed to get his life on the right track. He returned to the gym to continue training in martial arts, which is when he fell totally in love with MMA. It completely changed his life. Bakocevic acknowledges that, if it wasn’t for the sport, he would probably be dead or locked up.

The 30-year-old has had 58 professional fights to date, and laughs that he is only now just getting started. One thing that has stuck with him through his well established career is his distinctive nickname, one he was first given before he had even started MMA.

“‘The Psychopath’ came from my school days,” stated Bakocevic. “I was kind of bullying older kids back then, so my friends used to say ‘You are a f-cking psycho man!’ In my first fight, I remember they called me that nickname and it has remained with me ever since. It’s great, and it suits me because when I go in the cage, I turn into a f-cking psycho. I want to injure and f-cking kill people, which I think the fans love about me.”

As a part of KSW’s ongoing international expansion, the promotion will stage an event in Croatia for the first time November 9th—and Bakocevic has been awarded a spot in the co-main event. The card is based around the theme of ‘The Balkans vs. Rest of the World,’ and Bakocevic will likely to have the crowd on his side against his Polish opponent, Borys Mankowski (19-8-1). Their bout is being competed at a catchweight of 161 lbs (73 kg), as both men are looking to gradually drop down to the lightweight division.

Bakocevic believes that there is definitely a place for a 73 kg division in MMA, since many fighters who compete at lightweight really struggle to shift those last few pounds. And while he feels sure that, with his new diet and improved training regime, he will be able to make 155lbs easily, he feels he may actually perform better at 73 kg. ‘The Psychopath’ claims that he’ll have better cardio, a stronger chin, and that his all-round game will improve without a hard weight cut.

Mankowski is a former KSW welterweight champion and remains one of the most popular fighters in the promotion today. However, he is in the midst of a rough patch in his career—struggling with injuries and coming off the back of three consecutive defeats. Some consider that this is a must-win fight for Mankowski to stay relevant in the promotion, and to prove that he is still capable of defeating some of the best fighters in Europe. Bakocevic says he plans to show no mercy to Mankowski, and is looking to add to his own 31 career stoppage victories in Arena Zagreb.

“I’m preparing for the best Mankowski ever, so I’m not expecting him to be terrible,” explained Bakocevic. “He didn’t look bad against Norman Parke in his last fight, but he was very poor against Khalidov and Soldic. I think Mankowski needs to clear his mind. I’ve had some crazy sh-t going on in my life before, so maybe he has some personal issues. He can’t carry those problems inside the cage with him on Saturday because he’s already going to have one huge problem standing right in front of him.”

“I think he’s a great fighter, and can see that he is pretty well rounded,” continued Bakocevic. “He has good boxing, solid head movement, and a strong chin. But, I don’t think he punches hard. He has pillows for hands. I think I could eat his punches like f-cking Tic Tacs all night. This bout could very possibly be an absolute war. But, if he comes inside the pocket and tries to fight with me like he did against Norman? I hit five times harder than Parke. I would knock Mankowski out if he did that, for sure!”

Bakocevic isn’t planning on this being another short stay in KSW. He wants to stick around in the promotion for years to come, and become a force to be reckoned with. ‘The Psychopath’ has already shared the cage with Hermes Franca, Roberto Soldic, Waylon Lowe, and Zubaira Tukhugov and wants to continue adding to that list of notable names as he establishes his own legacy in the cage. Bakocevic has his sights set very high, and won’t hesitate in taking out anyone on his way to the top.

“My aim in KSW now is to be the f-cking champ, and I f-cking will be the champ!” exclaimed Bakocevic. “Five years ago when I fought for the first time here, I wasn’t experienced. And I still, on short notice, mauled their lightweight champion. After that fight, I mauled their featherweight champion, but I was robbed by the judges. So f-ck that, I’m over it. I think I have the ability to beat anybody, so I will be the lightweight champion by the end of 2020. Mark my words!”

KSW 51 can be purchased at around the world on Saturday and kicks off at 6pm GMT. Fans in the US can buy the event on the same website and tune in at 1pmET/12c. Alternatively, they can watch the event on DAZN.

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