After FFC Futures in Opatija, Croatia, and FFC11 event in Osijek that "opened" the real Final Fight season, FFC12 is to take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia April 25. The leading regional combat sports promotion brought big names to Tivoli last year as well, but this time the fight card will be even stronger and better. Paul Daley is scheduled to fight Miran Fabjan, but there will also be Dion Staring as well as some of the best Slovenian fighters. These reasons are enough to make an interview with FFC President Orsat Zovko.
Why FFC Futures? The first Futures event was widely praised and the second is coming soon…
"Futures is a new event introduced because we believe we need some kind of a transitional competition system between professional and amateur competitions. I believe FFC Futures is the best system and through it we discover the new generations of Croatian fighters as well as fighters from the region. Futures enables fighters to get used to stronger competition and to see what it is like to fight at an event with big production. I think it will be easier to bring them to FFC events after a couple of matches at Futures and then they maybe end up in some world's top promotion."
Osijek and FFC11 is behind us. Were there any changes in comparison to 2013?
"When we talk in the context of FFC events then we made a step forward when it comes to visual identity. The production was on a higher level, we enhanced some graphical details. We received many praises after Osijek. I already mentioned we have stronger fight cards now, but now I can say again that some of the world's superstars like Paul Daley and Alessio Sakara will fight under our banner. Daley is already to fight at FFC in Ljubljana, Slovenia."
In Osijek kickboxing was the main part of the event, while the MMA matches were in its shadow. What is your message to those who are unhappy with this?
"There will always be those who will not be satisfied, those who think it should have been made different as well as those happy with the changes. We kept the right to decide which part of the event will be first and which second. That exclusively depends on the commercial interest of the foreign TV channels. They suggest what they believe to be more interesting to be broadcasted in primetime. We will stick to it in the future as well and that's it."
What do you prefer?
"I personally prefer kickboxing because I've been into this business since 1996. I am way more attached to that sport although I like MMA as well. I will say once again, it has nothing to do which event takes place first and which takes place second. The reason why MMA part of the event opened the evening is purely of commercial nature. Ljubljana will be the same. Daley and Fabjan will be the headliners of the event and KB will take place after MMA part of the event."
Which fighters impressed you the most in Osijek?
"Three of them. Jurkovic, Milinkovic and Bekavac. Jurkovic did a routine match which is never easy. However, Igor showed he is mature and he showed once again he is a great fighter which he already proved at FFC and Glory. His opponent was not weak. On the contrary, all pressure was on him. Milinkovic was in a similar situation. He is in the stage of the career where he has to fight stronger fighters and higher level fighters. Traunmuller was exactly that. Solid, tough and experienced. Perfect for Milinkovic. Sasa proved we can count on him and he defended his title of one of the most perspective heavyweight fighters in the region. He still needs to do some high level matches, but with his talent and persistence I do not doubt at all he will score excellent results in the future. You will see him by the end of the year at FFC again. Bekavac did the best job in Osijek. He had the most difficult task to overcome. He fought an experienced fighter with UFC background. Sanchez came to Osijek in top shape, he was very well prepared."
What were the reactions to FFC11 in general?
"I would like to emphasize that we received many praises for the event in Osijek. Eddie Sanchez praised it himself and he competed in many worlds’ top promotions. He thanked us for inviting him to fight at FFC and he said that along with UFC we showed we are top level organization when it comes to the organization and production. He also told us people in the US and Canada who watched the match on Fight Network reacted to it positively. This is why we are happy and satisfied."
FFC12 in Ljubljana, Slovenia is taking place April 25. What can you tell us about it?
"I am really glad one of the biggest stars, Paul "Semtex" Daley, signed with FFC. That is a proof of our quality, of our professionalism and proof we are doing serious business. Daley is definitely favourite when it comes to his match with Fabjan, but Fabjan is not someone who will give up. I believe it will not be easy for Daley and they both have equal chances in that match. Dion Staring is also to fight in Ljubljana. He is a fighter I extremely appreciate. He is a great warrior and a good man. He always accepts matches. He never picks and never complicates. However, I believe that the match of the evening could be the one between Teo Mikelic and Mirko Vorkapic."