Rade Opacic announced himself to ONE Championship fans with a career defining KO of Errol Zimmerman last December. He finished the Dutch legend with a spectacular spinning kick and the matchmakers were so impressed they promptly offered him a fight the following month.

Opacic could not quite repeat the trick in January. He did finish Bruno Susano in the second round at ONE: ‘Unbreakable’ but it was due to a cumulation of strikes rather than that one shot KO.

With two wins out of two the Croatian has arguably established himself as the best heavyweight kickboxer on the roster. His reward is a fight against Patrick Schmid at ONE on TNT next Wednesday and he already has big ambitions,

“Obviously, the short-term goal is to win my fight on April 7th, but my goal is to become the ONE heavyweight kickboxing world champion.”

Bitter sweet

The win over Zimmerman at ONE: ‘Big Bang’ Part II was bitter sweet for Opacic because he is friends with the Dutch veteran,

“It was a little weird because we know each other and were actually friends, but a fight is a fight, and we could still be friends after it. Errol has faced everybody and has many wins over a lot of good fighters, but I believed in myself. I just said, ‘I’m going to go and do my best’ and that’s what I did. That KO allowed people to see me, and it was in a spectacular way.”

The Croatian started out in taekwondo but never really fell in love with the Korean martial art,

“At the age of 10, I started doing a little taekwondo. I was learning how to kick, it was good but I didn’t ‘find myself’ in it.”

After watching some K-1 he knew exactly which sport was the right one for him,

“I watched the old K-1 shows from back then. I saw those guys, and I thought I wanted to be like them. From my first training session, I fell in love with it. I felt that it was part of me. I was still young, just a kid, but right away, I was very serious about it.”

Amateur success

The 23 year old enjoyed extensive success in the amateur ranks. After establishing himself on the local scene Opacic soon became a world champion,

“I started doing amateur fights. I won everything, I became the national champion, the champion in the Balkan region, European champion and world champion,” he said.

Buoyed by this early success Opacic decided to dedicate himself to the sport. He was determined to become a full time kickboxer and set out to fight as frequently as possible,

“I just thought ‘let’s see what the future will bring’ (and) I trained and accepted every fight. I was serious and dedicated then and now I am even more serious.”

Pole position

He lost nearly an entire year of his career due to Covid-19. But once he was able to compete again Opacic made his ONE Championship debut and the rest is history.

A win over Schmid next week would surely leave him in pole position for a shot at the inaugural heavyweight kickboxing belt. Things are looking good for the young Croatian who is happy to be competing regularly in front of a worldwide audience,

“I’m happy to be in ONE and I’m very glad that I can fight on the biggest stage in the world,” he says.

He has that heavyweight title in his sights and Opacic says he won’t stop until it is wrapped around his waist,

“I have dedicated everything I have to this sport so I’m going to do everything, and face anyone, to accomplish that.”