As TKO fans have figured out in the last year, the name Strahinja Gavrilovic is synonymous with unpredictable. Just look at how things have evolved for him in 2017: on January 13 he scored a 51-second knockout of Jonathan Vallee that was converted to a disqualification loss and resulted in a suspension; on June 16, a much calmer Gavrilovic submitted veteran Fritz Paul; this Friday, he steps into the cage with former Bellator champion and UFC veteran Maiquel Falcao where if he is victorious, he will earn a championship match to close out the year. Talk about ups and downs!
When you combine that path with the funny, intense character of Gavrilovic both inside and outside the cage, it isn’t difficult to understand why he is one of the most popular and polarizing figures on the Canadian MMA scene. So what can fans expect on Friday? A calm Gavrilovic as was the case against Paul or the crazy man that squared off with Vallee? Even he isn’t sure: “Every fight I’m different and it’s not something I can prepare or control, it’s just instinct.”
Instinct ironically is what put him in the position he is in as it was at TKO 39 that Gavrilovic called out Falcao as part of his post-fight interview as part of his tirade. It came as no shock to him when days later, the challenge was accepted: “His name just popped into my head so I said it, I guess it was adrenaline. Deep down, I knew he’d take the fight. He’s a thug, he’s a gangster, he doesn’t back down unlike many others in this weight class.”
Gavrilovic has made many changes in his life over the past few weeks in order to be completely focused on his fighting career. He realizes that a victory over Falcao on an international stage such as UFC Fight Pass will open many doors and result in greater opportunities. To take full advantage, he has quit his job and taken a hiatus from school and has dedicated himself to becoming an elite mixed martial artist. “It got really tough to manage the schedule. I live in Sherbrooke but I train in Trois-Rivières so I’m in the car 3 to 4 hours a day just going back and forth.”
This golden opportunity almost didn’t pan out for the man known as “The Werewolf” as an illness kept him out of camp for almost 2 weeks. This also wreaked havoc on his weight which he simply saw as an additional challenge on the road to success. Weighing in at 206 pounds on Tuesday morning, Gavrilovic now has 48 hours left to tip the scales at 192 pounds at the official weigh-in on Thursday. He even considered backing out of the fight but thought better of it in the end. He insisted on reassuring his fans: “I am 100% and ready to go. I will make weight and on Friday I will do what I do best.”
Gavrilovic confirmed he had made no major changes to his camp in preparing for this, the biggest fight of his life. “I did the same thing I always do, I’m ready for anything. I’m going in there ready to win any I can, whether it’s a knockout, submission or even go the distance if I have to. I just can’t wait to welcome Maiquel Falcao to Montreal.”
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– story by Patrick Lono, TKO