Andreas Michailidis proves that you don’t have to succeed in the UFC to succeed as an MMA fighter.
The 35-year-old was called up to Dana White’s league for a last-minute light heavyweight fight with Modestas Bukauskas in July 2020 and gave a good account of himself in the first round.
However, he ate a series of elbows from the London-based Lithuanian just before the horn sounded to end his first five minutes as a UFC fighter.
Stunned and confused, Michailidis ignored the referee’s calls for him to return to his corner before falling off the Octagon, causing the fight to be abandoned.
After a full camp to prepare for a middleweight fight, the Greek MMA star returned to the win column by outpointing KB Bhullar over three rounds in May 2021.
However, that turned out to be the only time Michailidis tasted victory in the UFC.
He was nurtured by kickboxing legend and future UFC champion Alex Pereira, who wowed in his Octagon debut in November 2021 by knocking out Michailidis with a flying knee.
A move to welterweight followed for Michailidis, but it did not change his fortunes as he lost by unanimous decision to Rinat Fakhretdinov and was released by the UFC in June 2022.
Since then, “The Spartan” has rebuilt his career at OKTAGON.
The European promotion aims to create an ‘MMA Champions League’ in the coming years and is currently attracting fighters with its €1 million (£860,000) Gamechanger tournament.
Michailidis scored back-to-back wins over Leonardo Silva and Mohamed Grabinski to secure his place in the semi-finals which took place in Frankfurt on Saturday evening.
Just 33 seconds were enough for him to secure a place in December’s final and Michailidis couldn’t be happier with his performance against Louis Glismann.
“It was amazing, of course, I really wanted to finish because I always want to impress the fans and I especially wanted to prove that I was ready for the final,” he said after the fight.
“I failed to get a knockout earlier in the tournament, so it was gratifying for me to get it this time and qualify for the final.”
The UFC reject is quit for the chance to win a life-changing amount of money.
He added: “This prize money will change my life, but more importantly, it will change the lives of my family and I want that so badly. »
To realize his dream, Michailidis must dispose of Bojan Velikcovic who had a similarly disappointing period in the UFC – which included a loss to Darren Till – before reviving his career with three OKTAGON victories.
“He’s a true warrior and a very good fighter, which means it’s going to be really difficult for me to deal with this. But I handle every situation and every fight like a man; when I say I’m going to do something, I do it,” Michailidis said of his next opponent.
“Before the fight I wanted Bojan Velickovic to go to the final because I thought he was a little better than David Kozma that night, but in general too – so a big test for me in Prague.”