It was a surprise when Gute Inocente beat Rade Opacic at ONE 156. The Serbian had won his previous four ONE Championship fights inside the distance and was seen as the heavyweight champion in waiting.
But the Brazilian finished him in the second round. It was a serious setback for Opacic but he had no hesitation in demanding a rematch,
“I told (ONE Championship) right away after the fight that I wanted a rematch. I told that to my manager, too. If they said, ‘It’s the next fight,’ I would have accepted it. So, I’m happy that they have come with it now. I want to correct that mistake because I know I can do it. I want to set the record straight.”
Opacic has had to wait a year to get a rematch with Inocente. But he has not been sitting on the sidelines, the Serbian faced Giannis Stoforidis at ONE Fight Night 2 and once again he finished the fight inside the distance.
👊 @GutoInocente snaps Rade Opacic's four-fight winning streak with a liver shot in Round 1! #ONE158 | #ONEChampionship | https://t.co/eBUfsOlZOd pic.twitter.com/0xZzQwIVgZ
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 3, 2022
This power which heavyweights possess is Opacic’s greatest strength although it also proved to be his weakness in the first fight with Incocente. For the 25 year old this is the beauty of the heavyweight division,
“In the heavyweight division, one punch can end it. I felt like I was winning the fight. And then, he won. There is nothing wrong with that. He hit me, he got me, and that’s it.”
But while Opacic’s equilibrium might have been affected by those punches from the Brazilian his confidence remains intact. His is adamant that he has what it takes to beat Inocente,
“In my mind, I knew that I could beat him. So, that’s what bothered me, and that’s why I wanted the rematch – because I know I’m the better fighter. I want to show it to the fans. That’s why this rematch is very, very important for me.”
Rade Opacic 🇷🇸 starts the show with a second-round KO of Giannis Stoforidis!#ONEonPrimeVideo2 #ONEChampionship
🇺🇸🇨🇦 Watch live on @primevideo 👉 https://t.co/ZJZqnWKU30
🌍 Watch live 👉 https://t.co/8MeKhRMtjy pic.twitter.com/nhwqEabbtm
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) October 1, 2022
Having knocked out every single opponent he had faced in his ONE Championship career it is understandable that Opacic wasn’t taking a patient approach. But that is one of the lessons he took from his loss to Inocente.
Opacic says he is in a better place following his win over Stoforidis and feels he showed more self restraint in that fight,
“He is a very respectable opponent, a very strong opponent, a really tough guy. I said to myself when the fight with Guto happened, ‘next fight, I’m going to be more calm’ and that’s what I did. So, it’s a good thing that I can control my emotions and do it smartly.”
The 25 year old was expected to become the promotion’s first heavyweight champion but he is one of the younger fighters in the division, 11 years the junior of Inocente. Opacic believes that during the time that has elapsed since their first time he has improved and evolved,
“I’m more experienced. I’m older.”
He has also been training hard and thinks the timing of the rematch, which is booked for Bangkok on June 10th, is ‘perfect’,
“I did a lot of sparring with kickboxers and boxers, so I think it’s the perfect time for me to get the rematch with him.”