Aleksandar Rakic's performance in the main event of UFC Vegas 8 was a masterclass. To suffocate a man as tough as Anthony Smith will help Aleksandar Rakic's confidence immensely as he embarks on a quest for the vacant light heavyweight title.
Things have changed massively at light heavyweight as Jon Jones has finally relinquished his belt, leaving the door ajar for other contenders of the division. Aleksandar Rakic is one of the younger athletes in the top 10 of the UFC who will have a lot of hype behind his back after his performance in the main event.
UFC has unearthed a lot of potentially good young fighters who have been negatively affected because of the spotlight being focused on them too soon in their careers. Some of the best examples in recent times include fighters like Darren Till, Francis Ngannou, and Aleksandar Rakic himself.
What is striking though is that both Till and Ngannou have established themselves as elite-level fighters even after failing to impress on the biggest stage and are still well-respected among fans and peers alike. Both of them found themselves in similar situations as UFC hyped them up while making sure they had a quick path that shot straight to the top.
The UFC ended up regretting their moves with Dana White even going so far as to admitting that Till had been pushed too soon into the bright lights. The situation with Ngannou infuriated the UFC president even more as White accused the Cameroonian of getting too arrogant and believing in his own hype.
Till and Ngannou hail from Europe and Africa respectively, continents which UFC has been eager to conquer while also lacking star power to attract new fans. Essentially both these fighters were pawned off by their promotion in the hopes that they could become a star to help them capitalize on a previously untapped market.
Aleksandar Rakic should look at these patterns carefully as he strategizes the next part of his young MMA career. Rakic, like Till, hails from Europe and is a young man aged just 28.
Rakic also boasts a tremendous striking pedigree like the two guys mentioned before him and has a highlight KO of Jimi Manuwa in his resume. All these points make Aleksandar Rakic the perfect fighter behind whom UFC could potentially put their hype mechanics into and the fighter himself wants nothing less than to be in the title picture.
What makes Rakic's title contention legit though, is the fact that he won't be facing a long time incumbent champion as a challenger. Till and Ngannou found their hype trains derailed by Stipe Miocic and Tyron Woodley, both of whom rank high in the list of the greatest champions of their respective divisions.
Aleksandar Rakic won't be faced with a conundrum like that and will instead fight a newly crowned king which makes me believe his story won't be the tale of a hype train. Aleksandar Rakic, whatever the results of his next fight, is certainly the real deal.Published 31 Aug 2020, 23:56 IST