The transition from amateur to professional can be a difficult bridge to cross in any sport and none more so than in the world of mixed martial arts. A fighter who finds himself in this position is 21-year-old Jordan Vucenic who is set to make his pro debut at Tanko FC 4 on May 12.
Vucenic will face Panicos Yusuf (2-0 MMA, 1-0 TFC) in a featherweight matchup instead of the advertised catchweight of 63.5 kg. Yusuf also made his pro debut under the Manchester based banner at Tanko FC 2 when his opponent Ben Dearden tapped out due to strikes in just under two minutes; in his most recent bout at CSFC 17, Yusuf destroyed the legs of Sam Halliday earning him his second first round stoppage victory in as many fights.
Making the transition from amateur to professional is all about timing; Vucenic makes the jump to pro on the back of an impressive amateur career where he earned a record of 5-0, four coming by way of stoppage. His most recent outing was a first round TKO victory against Percy Hess at Golden Ticket Fight Promotion. In an interview with MMA Plus he revealed how he feels now is as good a time as any to make the step up.
“I just think I’m ready, I think I’m at the right places, I’m with the right guys, training with the right guys and I’m feeling ready for it now. I’ve felt ready for a little while but I think I’m 21 now I’m still obviously a boy I’m still not a fully grown man but I think now is the time where the weight and being a boy isn’t going to play too much of an advantage anymore. I think if I was going to jump pro when I was 18 or 19 I think it would have been a problem, even if I was technically better than him I think at that age with that strength I think some of the men could have manhandled me but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
Vucenic out to prove he’s the real deal
Having had two fights and earned two first round stoppages, Yusuf will prove to be anything but an easy opponent, although the Englishman insisted he was never turning down the bout and sees it as an opportunity to make a statement on his introduction to the professional circuit.
“Nah no doubt I wanted the toughest fight I could get and I think that was a big fight. I think it’s a big fight but it’s not too much, it’s not I’ve just jumped in and took a fight with a UFC world champion do you know what I mean. I think it’s a nice fight a nice opponent, a good win and a big win.”
The 4d/BST man acknowledges that his opponent is a top Muay Thai fighter to have come out of the UK but admits he is not entirely convinced by his overall mixed martial arts game nor the opponents that were put in front of him.
“I know he’s got good striking, real nice Muay Thai striking but I dunno if he’s transitioned it well enough, we are still yet to see what he can do in reference to the grapple, wrestling and ground game. I think the first opponent he TKO’d on the ground but I think he was there to lose I don’t think he had to worry too much about him.”
He added: “I think he’s good, I think he’s obviously going to come with a good game plan but I think we’ve both got points to prove, he’s obviously going to try to prove a point that he’s the real deal and obviously I’m going to try prove that I’m the real deal, I’m going to silence him.”
Although he is set to be making his professional debut, Vucenic recorded 20 bouts across the board during his time as an amateur competing in boxing, K1, Muay Thai and MMA which makes him anything but inexperienced. He believes having competed in the various areas of martial arts his overall game will prove too much for his opponent and told us what we can expect from him come May 12.
“Yeah I just think he hasn’t mixed it up as much as I’ve mixed it up and competition wise he’s not had too much MMA competition. You’re just going to see a true MMA performance you’re going to see someone who’s going to mix it up and I think I’m going to shock everyone.”
Vucenic: ‘He’s going to hate it being in there’
Making your professional debut is a huge moment in any fighter’s career and this is no different for the 21-year-old, the fight is a little under three weeks away and he can’t wait to step inside that ring where he believes he will earn the first stoppage of his pro career.
“Honestly I can’t wait for it, I can’t wait to go in and I tell you, you can’t plan it out but I’m going to make it look easy, I’m going to run through him trust me. I’m going to come out I’m gonna put it on him and I’m gonna put it on him hard. I ain’t gonna put it on him as in throwing big shots I’m just going to smother him, he’s going to hate it being in there. I promise that I’ll stop him, it doesn’t matter what round I’ll stop it. I’ll stop the fight whether it’s submission or a TKO.”
Although he won’t be looking past his upcoming opponent the Northamptonshire man has his eyes set on the bigger picture and promises that Jordan Vucenic is a name to remember.
“This time next year I’ll be 3-0 and will be signed to quite a good promotion, after that world champion. I’ll be a mixed martial arts world champion I promise.”