Pavol Neruda and Ondřej Novotný started Oktagon MMA with a dream, and with the help of their lovable mascot, Gogi, they’ve taken over the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, and now they’re ready to explode into the UK.
Born in Slovakia, Neruda co-founded the promotion, with the intention of creating shows with a phenomenal atmosphere, that tell the stories of the fighters and give MMA enthusiasts an experience they’ll never forget. And with the help of Gogi, they’ve become a promotion that stands out from the pack.
The charismatic gorilla is a huge part of proceedings, carrying around his massive banana and taking pictures with his adoring fans. And with Oktagon 48 taking place at the AO Arena in Manchester tonight, has the furry fella made the flight?
Speaking exclusively to Sporf, Neruda revealed: “Oh yeh, we can’t do events without Gogi. It’s interesting; we are the first MMA promotion in the world to have a mascot. He wil be here; we can’t be without our good energy, Gogi.”
Pavol Neruda’s blown away with how far Oktagon has come
With the showmanship of Novotný and the genius of Neruda, Oktagon has quickly become a show that transcends its predecessors, becoming Europe’s number one promotion. And the Slovakian can’t quite believe just how far they’ve come.
He beamed: “It’s crazy. The dream is always growing. Sometimes, I need to squeeze myself over whether it’s true to be here in Manchester right now. We have such a great fight card; it’s amazing stuff. All the fans and viewers are behind the TV screen. Now it’s happening.
“Just six months ago, we saw the beautiful journey of Jake Quickenden and Paul Smith preparing for their MMA debuts, which hit hundreds of thousands of fans. We have Oktagon Challenge: England vs Ireland, so all these beautiful adventures are going to come to fruition at this event in Manchester.”
Pavol Neruda can’t wait for Oktagon 48
In a bid to win over the UK public, Oktagon has pulled out all the stops to put together the most striking spectacle possible. Consequently, they’ve given, ‘The Jedi’ Akonne Waniss, the stage to showcase his skills.
The amusing character, who will walk to the cage tonight in Star Wars-themed attire, will look to prove he’s worthy of being associated with the intergalactic characters he puts his name alongside. And at the weigh-in, he raised eyebrows by gifting Bryan Lacey a cuddly beetroot toy, which he’d stuffed down his pants.
Neruda laughed: “From the strip tease to his light sabre, I loved it. I’m surprised at how quickly Jakub Bahnik reacted. He definitely wasn’t in the mood for any jokes. He’s usually a cool and calm guy. Akonne always delivers with his humour and energy. He brings so much attention and puts on a show.”
“There’s some good energy in Manchester; every staredown was wild. It was great. I’m super excited. I can promise we’ll do our best to deliver the best UK show; I believe we will become the best promotion in the UK. We will be back next year with four more.”
Aaron Aby has the greatest story in Oktagon history
While Wanliss’ gimmick is exceptionally entertaining, it’s Aaron Aby who’s really stolen the show. Having overcome cancer, the Welshman has proven himself to be a role model that everyone ought to aspire to be like. And Neruda is over the moon that the warrior has the opportunity to fight for the Oktagon title against UFC icon, Elias Garcia.
Neruda concluded: “Aaron Aby touched me with his speech. The guy opens his mouth, and his words hit you.
“Elias Garcia didn’t come here to lose. It will be very difficult for Aaron, but the whole venue will be cheering for him to get the title. It will be a beautiful story if he wins. But even if he doesn’t, it will be a great fight, and he will be satisfied with his performance.
“If you have problems in your life, look at him. Look at what he went through and is still here, competing at the highest level and fighting for the belt. Wow.”
Featured Image Credit: Oktagon MMA