Ironically, Cro Cop-Groomed Reljic Primed for UFC Success

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2008

In 2003, Goran Reljic was a 21 year old college kid growing up in Croatia when he met and befriended a fellow countryman and national hero named Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.


At the time Cro Cop was an established PRIDE superstar and one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world. 

Fighting was their common passion and it was not long before Cro Cop encouraged Reljic to try out mixed martial arts full time and train striking, kickboxing, and grappling with him in Zagreb.   

Reljic eventually fully committed to mixed martial arts under the guidance of Cro Cop.  He started splitting his training time between the Cro Cop Squad Gym in Zagreb and the Gracie Barra facility in West London, England under the direction of Abu-Dhabi and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Roger Gracie

Reljic quickly morphed into a formidable and dangerous mixed martial artist.  He won his first professional fight on April 4, 2004 via armbar against Bojan Spalevic and then rattled off six more victories to run his professional record to 7 - 0. 

Along the way Reljic earned a purple belt in jiu-jitsu under Roger Gracie and won the 2007 European Gracie Championship event. 

Training day in and day out with some of the best trainers in the world eventually fast tracked this budding talent.  His early success in the ring, coupled with his hard work and long hours in the gym eventually paid off.    

In early 2008, Reljic's manager Zoran Saric informed him that his next fight required a flight to Las Vegas, NV and that his new employer was the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

This was the opportunity of a lifetime for Reljic and one he had been working toward for nearly five years. 

To make sure he was ready for his first UFC fight Reljic and his manager decided to sure up all aspects of his game. 

Reljic flew to Las Vegas, NVto prepare and train at Xtreme Couture a couple months prior to his first UFC fight.  There he got a crash course in all areas of MMA sparring with the likes of Martin Kampmann, Wanderlei Silva, and Forrest Griffin



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