As a Lion Fight Muay Thai World Champion with 33 wins on his résumé, Ognjen Topic has proved himself as one of the best stand-up martial artists in the world.
However, he started his career in “the art of eight limbs” when he was 18 years old, which put him as much as a decade behind some of his Thai peers in terms of experience.
His opponent this Friday, 12 April at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, Saemapetch Fairtex, began his training when he was just 11, and his relentless schedule has seen him build an incredible record of 119-15-1 and win the MTGP Welterweight World Championship.
Serbian-American striking sensation Ognjen Topic // Oгњен Топић returns to face super Saemapetch on 12 April! Manila | 12 April | 6:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 5, 2019
Though he began his martial arts journey when he was a young teenager, overcoming this disadvantage in Muay Thai to achieve tremendous success has been the most difficult challenge of Topic’s adult life.
“All these guys [in Thailand] have been doing it for like 25 years, and right now, I’ve been doing it for maybe 13 years. Those extra 10 years really mean something,” he says.
“[Experience] is something that is so hard to get unless you actually have those years behind you. It’s hard to put yourself there mentally and [adjust] just by being focused. Sometimes I’m able to do it, other times I’m not because it’s extremely difficult.
“That’s probably the hardest part – it’s the mental things that are always the most difficult with anything.”
Topic has tried to play catchup from the first day he fell in love with the sport, and that meant one thing – take on the toughest opponents he could find.
Are you ready for Serbian-American Muay Thai sensation Ognjen Topic // Oгњен Топић's return this Friday? ????Manila | 12 April | 6:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, April 8, 2019
He took on opponents who were bigger and more experienced. Some contests could have been considered mismatches because of the gulf in size or seasoning.
However, the New Jersey native faced all comers because he knew the best way to close the gap with his peers was by jumping into the fire while doing his best not to get burned.
“When I first started Muay Thai, me and my coach had the same goal. We both wanted the toughest fights because we both knew that was the fastest way to get us to our goals,” Topic says.
“We didn’t have time to sit around and take our time and progress. We went in there and fought the best fighters that we could, and that’s what brought me to this level that I’m at now.
“I don’t regret anything, but I wish I had more time. That’s the biggest thing. I’m trying to cheat time right now by just trying to get as much experience as I can.”
Ognjen Topic // Oгњен Топић's elbows are ON POINT ????Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, March 22, 2019
Because he was taking on bigger and supposedly better opponents who had dozens, if not hundreds more bouts on their records while he was still considered a novice, Topic took a lot of bumps and bruises during the early part of his career.
As tough as that was on him, he would not change anything, because it took him to a higher level in double-quick time.
“I wanted to take those fights even if they didn’t go my way,” Topic says.
“In some of those instances, I should have won the fight anyway because I was much better than my opponent, but the small little technicalities made the difference.
“Those fights made me who I am today. I like challenging myself because I feel like that’s what’s going to make me a stronger person, mentally. Make me much tougher. I always like to put myself in bad positions. It’s stupid when I say it, but I like hardship in some way.”
BEASTLY kicks from Ognjen Topic // Oгњен Топић, who faces fellow Muay Thai World Champion Saemapetch on 12 April!Manila | 12 April | 6:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 5, 2019
In recent months, Topic has done even more to advance his skill set so he can compete with the best of the best in Muay Thai in ONE Super Series.
He left his home in the United States and has spent months in Bangkok training at P.K. Saenchai Muay Thai gym, and he believes that has taken him to a new level ahead of his bantamweight clash with Saemapetch in Manila, Philippines.
The 33-year-old may not be able to turn back the clock and take up Muay Thai earlier in his life, but Topic’s willingness to push himself and embrace any challenge has helped him make up for lost time.
He admits that sometimes it has taken all his mental fortitude to step in the ring and face his most formidable tests, but without doing so, he would never have become so successful and made it to the global stage for martial arts.
“If you do anything difficult, there’s always going to be an aspect of fear,” Topic explains.
“Sometimes you just have to do things when you’re afraid because that’s when you’re going to perform at your best and at your highest level.
“I know I’m going to be as sharp as possible mentally because you know you have more at stake and you know any moment could be your last moment.”