MMA

"I want to fight for the KSW title!"

Goran Reljic weighs in for his fight against Karol Celinski.

Croatian MMA Veteran Goran “Ghost” Reljic finds himself in an interesting situation right now – after blasting through the European scene at the beginning of his career, he signed with the UFC in 2008. After three straight defeats inside the octagon, he was released from the promotion and returned to the European scene.

After convincingly beating three opponents, Reljic competed for the prestigious Light Heavyweight belt of polish promotion KSW, but Jan Blachowicz proofed to be too much for the “Ghost” that night. Reljic, however, wouldn’t let this setback destroy his dreams of becoming a champion, and after beating Nikolay Osokin and Karol Celinski during the past six months, the Croatian wants another shot at the belt he feels he could have grabbed one eventful year ago:

What is your contract situation like right now? Are you under contract with KSW, or do you just go there every once in a while for one fight at a time?
I signed a multiple fight deal with Martin Lewandowski about one year ago when he wanted me to fight Jan Blachowicz.

But you are allowed to compete elsewhere in the meantime?
Yes.

Do you prefer a situation like this where you can choose where to take your career or would you rather be part of an organization that doesn’t allow you to fight in other places but that gives you a more organized schedule?
I would rather have one organization that I would be signed to, but it would have to be a good deal and that deal would have to have some guarantees, like that I can fight every two or three months. It would be easier to train if you could have it organized like that.

Do you have difficulties to find fights?
Yeah, it’s difficult to find opponents for me in Europe.

What was your experience with KSW like? Can you compare it to other organizations?
My experience with KSW is actually the best experience I’ve ever had with a MMA organization. People in Poland are wonderful people and hospitality is wonderful, one of the best I’ve ever been to. Everything is correct, everything is on time. These people really treat me perfect and I really hope to fight for them again. It’s a wonderful show, and they don’t take you just as a piece of meat, like some organizations do. They really want you to feel good.

You hear that a lot from fighters who have competed in the UFC and then fought for KSW. So what exactly are the differences compared to the UFC?
It’s a different language, it’s a different environment. I think the UFC is the most prestigious organization out there and it was a great experience to fight for them. Maybe I’ll come back there one day, I don’t know. I really feel very, very good at KSW right now, people really treat me with respect. The whole thing has a soul. I’m not the only fighter who says that, a lot of fighters say that. I really feel the spirit when I go there. The personal is very nice, the CEO is very nice.

What are your goals at KSW, now that you have your first victory under your belt?
My last fight against Karol Celinski, he was a very good opponent. What I want to do right now; first of all, I want to fight for the KSW title, the Light Heavyweight belt. I wanted to fight Jan Blachowicz again, but he signed with the UFC, so I won’t be able to do that for a while – but eventually, I will fight him, I guarantee you that. Right now, I want to fight for the belt. The reason why I want to do that is, I didn’t perform the best in (my last) fight, the reason being that Karol Celinski is a very technical opponent: much better Standup than I thought he would have; (he was) coming from a great training camp also. So the fight maybe looked a little bit boring, but it was a technical fight. In the future, I would like to fight somebody who is very aggressive, because that is when my best game comes out.

Like you said – when you first fought Blachowicz last year, he came out on top. What would be different in a rematch?
A lot of things would be different. He is a very good opponent who presents very interesting problems. He is very strong and his ground game is very good, as well as his Standup. His tactic for our fight was very good also. Back in the day when I fought him, I was doing everything on my own, I actually didn’t even have a coach to train me properly. I just went in for a fight, and that’s not how you do MMA on a high level. Everything is different now. Right now I have a great coach and actually great sparring partners, I invest a lot of money in my camps – the whole situation is different. That is why I see myself winning this fight, because I have a more tricky game than I had back then. I really want to fight him, because I think that in certain aspects of the game I’m better. It would still be a tricky fight, but that’s why I want to fight him. For me, he is Number one in Europe right now.

Since some people have criticized your last fight as being boring – are you happy with your performance?
No, I’m not happy, at all. First of all, I feel like I wasn’t aggressive enough, and that’s what people want to see. The thing is, I really couldn’t have been more aggressive, because Karol is very technical. With that kind of technical Standup game, you can’t underestimate him and rush him, because he is a very good counter striker. That’s why I had to be a little more careful. But still, I don’t want to fight like that. I should have been more aggressive with my takedowns and my wrestling. That’s what I’m going to do the next time, for sure. I’ll finish the fight.

Did you earn yourself a title shot by beating Karol Celinski?
Whatever they say, I’ll do. It’s not up to me to say that. I just want to fight, that’s my goal. If they offer it to me – I think I’m ready. I train very hard right now; everything I do is just train a lot, eat, sleep and train again. That’s everything I want to in my life. I came to a point in my life where I realized that I don’t want to waste any energy on anything else whatsoever.  I’m a lot more mature than I was. I’m careful with what I eat, when do I go to bed, when do I wake up, how do I train, who do I train with: that’s the only thing I care about right now. I`m 30 years old, I really think that right now I’m in the best shape of my life and I want to fight as much as I can. If you ask me, I would fight every two months.

Did you feel the difference in your own game right away after improving your training background, or was it a process that took a bit of time?
Actually, that loss came very good to me. It was a wakeup call, because I realized that I had to change some things. I realized what Mixed Martial Arts are all about, I realized how much I had sacrificed, how dedicated I had to be, how much more focused I had to be. There is a lot more to it than people think.

Did anybody approach you with a new fight yet; are there any news on your immediate fighting future?
To tell you the truth, not yet. But I want to send a message to all the light heavyweights out there – I’m willing to fight anybody. Let’s fight. I would take a fight on short notice, I’m in top shape all the time.

Do you have any big picture plans? Win the KSW title, defend it a few times and then go back to the UFC, or something totally different?
I would really like to fight for the belt, there is a lot of promotion around that. At the end of the day, it’s their call. I’ve already fought for the belt once and I lost. I really want to put that time behind me. They’ve signed a couple of very good fighters now, one of them being Virgil Zwicker. I would really like to fight that guy.

If you imagine yourself at 80 years old, what do you still have to do to in your career to look back on it and be satisfied?
I want to achieve something big. First of all, I’m far away from retiring. I don’t want to retire at least to the age of 40. I feel like my best time is just coming man. I’m very happy with everything I did. If I could travel back in time I would only change one thing and that would be being more responsible, I would treat some people better and maybe fix some mistakes that I feel sorry about.

Do you have any messages to KSW, UFC, Fans or potential opponents?
Yeah, I feel really great fighting for KSW. Two days after my fight I went back to training, I couldn’t rest. That’s something that’s different from before. I just want to say that this is now my rise, one hundred percent. I want to fight, that’s the only thing I want right now.