By: Matt Lucas
The drive for perfection is never ending. It is consuming. It is continual. The point when the exquisite moment comes the next second it is all dashed away by flaws. Minor to some, mere trifles to others, but to the perfectionist glaring mistakes. Ognjen Topic is a perfectionist and he seeks perfection in the ring.
“I’m hungry to get on a higher level,” Topic said. “I want to get more titles. I have some Specific goals; a WBC title a WMC title. Now it’s possible for foreigners to get Raja Stadium titles. Fabio Pinca, Youseff Boughanem, this Japanese guy , Genji Umeno. They showed me it was possible for a foreigner get a foreigner to get a title. Ultimately though I’m never going to be satisfied with where I am. I’m cool with a title one day and then the next day I’m hungry for more.”
The desire to be a champion started when he was young. Topic watched boxing regularly and became involved in Tae Kwon Do earning himself a black belt along the way. At 18 he saw his first Muay Thai fights and was awed by the power and strength of the fighters. “This is what I want to do,” he said to himself. The Serbian found North Jersey Muay Thai’s gym near his home and he has been training out of the gym ever since with occasional trips to Eminent Air in Bangkok.
Over the years his champion mindset hasn’t changed. He has always been driven to cultivate the fullness of his potential. “Now I’m looking for the small things, the little things,” Topic said referring to his private sessions with clients. The little things help to sharpen his eye. “I pick up on the small details and I try to capitalize. For example, if my client is throwing the left hook and dropping their right, I’ll correct them. Once, twice, then the third time I’ll let them know.”
Keeping the mindset that allows him to win and keep going forward is difficult. “Emotions just come out,” he said. “You have to reassure yourself that all your background, all your history, all your experience will be there. You have to truly believe that you are a good fighter. Our mind is the biggest obstacle but over time you learn how to deal with the doubts, the small imperfections. Experience though is the biggest and best teacher you can have.”
The development for the tiny details has worked to his favor especially as his sparring partners aren’t quite as sharp as the ones that he had while training regularly at Eminent Air. “The guys at Eminent Air; Jomhod, Pragaipet, Satanfaa those guys were Stadium Champions,” Ognjen said. “Here they aren’t quite as good but as I spar regularly with my training partners they get better. I must stay one step ahead. They begin to know what I’m going to do so I have to challenge myself to step out of my routines. I have pick at the holes in my game and fix my own issues.”
The holes in Topics game were helped by his extensive time in Thailand. The ability to fight regularly makes Thailand a prime spot for fighters. Back home in Jersey though, “There isn’t anyone on my level and most people aren’t looking to be on my level. It’s more of a hobby, even if they have 10-15 fights. People aren’t looking to be the best. They are staying stagnant,” he said.
His time in Thailand wasn’t without hardships though as Topic fought several times on Max Muay Thai but was beaten out on points. “My losses were due to lack of experience. I didn’t know how to win. I would do well in the first and second round and then would get outpointed in the third. The scoring was different than in America and I didn’t know how to play the game right.”
Topics experience has grown though and recently he faced off against pound for pound king of the ring Saenchai PK Saenchaimuaythaigym. “He was my toughest challenge mentality. His speed is unreal and he’s 36. Fighting him gives me confidence that I can still fight at that age. It was also great for me to see that he does Some of the things I do. He just does them faster.”
The growth of Topic’s fight career has corresponded with his growth as a brand. Schooled in graphic design he turned his attention to fighting full time but there are correlations. “Graphic design is about branding. The brand is what you put out. How it makes people feel and how you perform as a a fighter is part of your brand as well. It gives off a feeling.”
Topic has been able to leverage that feeling to become one of the hottest Muay Thai fighters in America with his consistent message on social media and a large Instagram following. He began in January of last year putting out videos of himself training. “I wanted to have the right content,” he said. “I want to give people something that helps them out. My style is very technical. If you saw a silhouette of me you would think it was a Thai fighting.”
“It’s all organic growth. Nobody has been paid for. When Liam Tarrant and I started fighting we didn’t put shit out. We just trained and fought as much as we could. New guys these days are doing it backwards. A lot of them are trying to get Instagram famous but not worried about quality. They’re not focusing on getting their skill in the sport better.”
The organic growth of his brand has had him sponsored and working with Infightstyle for several years now. “They approached me after I had my bout with Rungravee. We have a really strong relationship now and I work with them regularly.” Topic also works regularly with Onnit and Clean Eats Meal Prep as well.
Topic has been on a run of late and while he dropped his Lion Fight lightweight belt to Sergio Wielzen he felt that he would have beaten him easily. “I don’t think Sergio is the true champion. We spoke after and he told me that he thought he was gonna lose. A real champion also defends their belt. I want to defend my belts.”
A title defense could be in the near future as Topic recently picked up the IKF belt at 132 pounds in Mexico. “I was in Puerto Vallerta for the bout against Rayo Uribe and everything was great. The promoter was awesome and generous. Mentally I was there. I could have finished the fight earlier but I wanted to pace myself. In the third round I picked it up. The fourth round I felt great. It was one of my best fights ever. In the fifth I got the knock out and I wasn’t even winded. I’ve cut out running in my training. I’d cut out running during my Saenchai fight and after that I felt fine.”
The quest for ring perfection will continue as Topic is slated to fight Tum Sitdyontong at Madison Square garden on June 9th for the Triumph Kombat card. Tum is an accomplished fighter with wins over Gaston Bolanos at Lion Fight, who he arguably cruised through and was recently matched against Sean Clancy at Max Muay Thai. Tum took the points win. Topic feels that he has more experience at that level. “I have to put more pressure on him and I can’t let him dictate the pace. I have to be smart as I can’t go in there throwing punches. It’s easy to fight a pressure fighter. Unfortunately, it’s only three rounds but I have the experience behind me.”
A champion mindset isn’t easy to cultivate and it’s even harder to perfect but Topic is well on his way to accomplish his goals.