Under the Radar at UFC 231: Aleksandar Rakic

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Aleksandar Rakic is rapidly ascending the ranks in the 205-pound weight class.

Under the Radar at UFC 231: Aleksandar Rakic

Aleksandar Rakic is rapidly ascending the ranks in the 205-pound weight class.

Prior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in their division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle.

Name: Aleksandar Rakic

Record: 10-1 overall; 2-0 UFC

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Division: Light Heavyweight

Team: Gym 23/American Top Team

Whenever there are fights near the top of the light heavyweight division, fans and observers tend to lament that lack of promising, young talent rising up the ranks in the 205-pound weight class.

But the truth is that there are several new names to track in the division, including Dominick Reyes, who has already emerged as a Top 10 talent, Johnny Walker, who looked outstanding in his promotional debut last month in Buenos Aires, Ion Cutelaba, Darko Stosic and Contender Series alum Jimmy Crute, who collected a late third-round submission win in his maiden voyage into the Octagon last weekend in Adelaide.

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Aleksandar Rakic is also part of that grouping and might have the most upside of anyone other than Reyes.

The 26-year-old Austrian lost his professional debut when his was 19-years-old and hasn’t lost again since, rattling off 10 consecutive victories heading into his crucial clash with fellow upstart Devin “Brown Bear” Clark this weekend in Toronto. After rattling off eight straight on the regional circuit, Rakic has gone 2-0 in the Octagon, collecting a unanimous decision win over Francimar Barroso in his debut before registering the same result in his sophomore appearance nearly 11 months later against Justin Ledet.

While the results were the same, Rakic looked different in his second foray into the Octagon, taking the fight to the former heavyweight Ledet right out of the chute in Hamburg, Germany. He was quicker and more diverse in his attacks — chopping away at Ledet’s lead leg and countering him well whenever the American looked to let loose with his hands.

It was one of those performances that gets swept under in the crush of bouts and events that take place over the course of the summer, but make no mistake about it — Rakic looked outstanding and showed in that bout that he’s someone to pay close attention to in the light heavyweight division.

One of the key reasons he feels like someone with serious upside in this division — beyond the whole 10-fight winning streak deal — is that he’s made the wise decision to spend a good amount of time training at American Top Team in South Florida. In far too many instances, you see promising fighters stick it out with this home gym or end up joining the wrong team, but ATT is one of the best squads in the sport and the one-stop-shop they have set up trails only the UFC PI in terms of the depth of training a fighter can get under one roof in North America.

Plus, the facility is packed with quality training partners and outstanding coaches in all areas.

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This matchup with Clark, who enters on a two-fight winning streak and does his camps at Jackson-Wink MMA, is a terrific litmus test for both men and comes at the right time. Both are clearly on their way up and improving between each fight, but they’re also young enough and earlier enough in their UFC careers that a setback here isn’t the end of the world.

Rakic caught my eye in his debut and profiles as someone with the potential to string together a few wins and make his way into the Top 15 in 2019, maybe even the Top 10 if things really break his way next year.

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