Roberto Soldić made his professional MMA debut on October 19, 2014. Less than three years since that moment, this fighter from Bosnia and Herzegovina became a champ in three European fighting promotions.
His path was no different from the path of his colleagues from the Southeast Europe. Burdened with poor life standard and slow progress in sport, Roberto Soldić left his home and moved to Germany.
His coach and manager Ivan Dijaković played a big role in this since he is also the owner of the famous UFD Gym in Düsseldorf. The two of them turned out to be a great team suffering barely two tight losses in twelve fights. Soldić’s only opponent who made it through all three rounds was Saša Drobac. Other rivals were less fortunate.
In the following interview, Soldić revealed his plans for the future, what he talked about in Dubrovnik with FFC President Orsat Zovko while he also explains the trash talk he has been engaging in with Luka Jelčić, Uroš Jurišič and Tadija Majić in the last couple of weeks.
You are currently on holidays in Dubrovnik, but you’re staying active. You’re training with Gladiator team in Dubrovnik. What is it like training with them?
“I’m currently in Dubrovnik, training with Gladiator team. I like the city very much and I found everything I needed here. Great training sessions, sea… Guys from Gladiator welcomed me in the best possible way and it’s great being their guest. I have everything I need there. I think that is the best MMA gym in Croatia which is also visible in their results. Their fighters have the best results on regional level. Trainings were awesome and this experience was very important for my future.”
A couple of days ago you shared a photo with FFC President Orsat Zovko and stated that you have some big news. What is it about? When will you fight in the FFC ring again?
“We had a meeting with Mr. Zovko and we talked about different things related to MMA. We mostly talked about my career and superfight with Luka Jelčić as well. I do not want to reveal the plan until it’s all officially confirmed.”
You share the same destiny with many other fighters from the Southeast Europe. Unfortunately, you were forced to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina and move to Germany. Tell us more about your beginnings in fighting sports and how you moved to Düsseldorf.
“It’s true. To be completely honest, now I’m really sure I did the right move when I decided to leave my country and go to Germany. I started with judo in Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I grew up. I think I mentioned the basement in which it all started a couple of times now. Since that moment I knew there was no turning back. Ivan Dijaković helped me move to Düsseldorf. Damir Beljo introduced me to him and I’m also thankful to him too.”
In Düsseldorf you started to cooperate with Ivan Dijaković. UFD Gym is said to be the best gym in Germany so you surely have great conditions there. Can you tell us more about the gym?
“Ivan is my coach and my manager. He is also the owner of the famous UFD Gym Düsseldorf. The gym is well known in Germany. It has everything an athlete needs. There is a big MMA cage and professional ring, there’s also a CrossFit box and fitness area. The gym is equipped with the best equipment but the most important thing is that it has top coaches. Ivan Hyppolyte is one of them. He is a big name and a big expert. He is my head coach when it comes to kickboxing. Sukru Aksu is the head coach in boxing while Leozada Nogueira coaches us BJJ and luta livre. In addition to all that I just mentioned, I also have great sparring partners there. Everybody is welcomed and conditions like these are just unique.”
Did you manage to reach the point in which you can live off the sport or do you still have to have a regular job to support yourself?
“At the moment I’m fine when it comes to finances. We all know that there is no big money in MMA, but I’m completely dedicated to it and I do not have a daytime job now. I have sponsors that help me. When I moved to Germany I had a rough patch, but now things are completely different and things have fallen into place. I am very content now.”
Do you miss your country? What do you miss the most about it?
“To be completely honest, I do not miss it much. My family supports me and they come and visit often.”
Under which banner would you like to fight the most? Croatian, German or Bosnian?
“Croatian because I’m Croat.”
In last couple of weeks you managed to engage in a social media war with other fighters, which is actually a proof that the scene is very much alive on the Balkans. Do you enjoy trash talk? Do you see is as a part of your job or you just say what’s on your mind?
“I usually do not engage in trash talk with other fighters and potential opponents. But those fighters called me out. And they were completely anonymous until I mentioned their names. They never left their village to fight.”
You called out Luka Jelčić, FFC lightweight champion. You said you would fight him for the unification of the belts. Can you drop to his division?
“I never called him out. I said I’d like to fight Luka Jelčić in some superfight. He is the only fighter I’m interested in. He is a good athlete and he trains with the best in SBG. Like Conor McGregor. Luka has excellent score and I think he is a serious opponent. Those factors are important if you want good matches. I believe our match would attract a lot of attention and that it would be interesting. Of course, I see myself as the winner if it ever happens.”
Luka accused you of using illegal substances based on your looks. What do you think of such accusations?
“I’m always ready for doping control. I’m sick and tired of those accusations.”
Not so long ago you also engaged in a Facebook war with Slovenia’s best MMA fighter Uroš Juričič. This could be a very interesting match, but how likely is it to happen? It seems you don’t consider it profitable.
“Who is Uroš Jurišič?! I already made it clear that the only opponent I’m interested in is Luka Jelčić. When I defeat him, I have nothing else to look for here. Uroš can dream about that match with me and about the FFC belt. He never had a good opponent, not to mention that he never even fought in the FFC. But he has the guts to talk shit against FFC’s champ.”
Last fighter you had a little social media clash with was Tadija Majić, another MMA prospect who claims that he was beating you up at sparing sessions.
“It seems they all want a piece of me. Tadija’s coach Goran Babić is fantasizing. In a recent interview he said that he discovered me. The man who never cared about his fighters and their matches! Tadija is also fantasizing. He can post whatever he likes on Facebook. That’s the only thing he can do. I don’t see his results.”