From a war-torn Yugoslavia to winning €300,000 in the Oktagon Tipsport Gamechanger — The Bojan Veličković story

Growing up during the Yugoslav Wars, Bojan Veličković had it tough. But rather than breaking him, his surroundings crafted him into the man he is today — a resilient fighter, who’s just made history by winning the first Oktagon Tipsport Gamechanger.

In a field featuring the toughest welterweights in Europe, MMA’s ‘Champions League’ pitted the best against the best in a tournament that provided thrills and excitement in abundance. In his remarkable run, Serbian sensation, Veličković, gave fans a memory that will last forever when he survived a double knockdown against Ion Surdu, one of the most brutal wars of attrition the sport has ever seen against Christian Jungwirth and an astonishing upset KO over David Kozma. And at Oktagon 51 at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, he put the icing on the cake, beating Andreas Michailidis in dominant fashion.

In the finale of the epic competition, 20,000 fans watched in awe as
‘The Prometheus’ showcased his immense fighting spirit to survive a difficult opening five minutes to submit his opponent via rear naked choke in the third round, to earn the title of the first Tipsport Gamechanger champion while simultaneously becoming €300,000 richer. And the road he endured to get to his crowning moment is just as impressive as his remarkable performances in the cage.

Bojan Veličković reminisces on his experience growing up in Serbia and his journey to Oktagon glory

Long before the sublime grappler ever set foot in the gym, he was just a boy feeling the brunt of the Yugoslav wars. But while his circumstances weren’t ideal, he never let it deter him from pursuing his dreams, putting all his efforts into sport under the guidance of his beloved late father, Dušan.

In an exclusive interview with Sporf, Veličković said: “Oh man. Well, growing up in Serbia definitely wasn’t a fairy tale. We had a lot of adversity with sanctions because Yugoslavia was falling apart, and there was a war between Serbia and Bosnia and Serbia and Croatia. I didn’t have a lot, and I didn’t get to do much travelling and see the world.

READ MORE: ‘THE PIRATE’ KNOCKS OUT ‘THE TERMINATOR’ — SAMUEL KRIŠTOFIČ ON THE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER OF FIGHTING KARLOS VEMOLA AT OKTAGON 51

“When I started growing up and started competing, that changed. I always looked at sport as something that could give me an opportunity to go and travel the world and have more experiences, so I think that is what motivated me to become an athlete my whole life.”

Bojan Veličković is a fantastic MMA coach at the Easton Training Centre in Denver, Colorado, USA

He continued: “I started playing football when I was five, then did some swimming and water polo, played volleyball and basketball in high school, and then finally started to get to go into martial arts. When I turned 18, I started training Muay Thai and got into MMA when I was 21. I got my first opportunity to go to the United States when I was 22. That was my journey.

“Now, I live in the United States and love it here. I have built a family and a community at the Easton Training Centre, where I coach. It’s great. It’s something that inspires me and gives me the strength to keep competing, even though I’ve just turned 35 and I have almost 40 professional fights.”

Bojan #WOLEVE owes Oktagon MMA Tipsport Gamechanger victory to his father

From humble beginnings to an Oktagon legend — it’s fair to say, Veličković, has gone on an inspirational ride to success. But he couldn’t have done it without his dad. The former police special forces operator did everything he could to give his son the best life possible, encouraging him to become a good Christian man, willing to dedicate his life to his craft. And while his father was not there to watch his son’s legacy-defining achievement in person, there’s no doubt he would’ve been looking down with a beaming smile on his face.

At the post-fight press conference, Veličković discussed what his dad would’ve thought, saying: “It’s a good question. I don’t know. Unfortunately, he’s not here. I just hope he’s somewhere out there, really happy for me.”

Featured Image Credit: Oktagon MMA