Šťastie praje pripraveným – fortune favours the bold.
This Slovak proverb is a fitting way to introduce Ľudovít Klein in 2022.
After all, the Slovak talent entered 2022 on a two-fight skid, yet stepped up on short-notice to fight Devonte Smith at UFC 272. Replacing Erick Gonzalez, the oddsmakers viewed Klein as a slight underdog for the matchup.
Make no mistake, the UFC is a cut-throat business, and unfavourable results often precede release from the promotion. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to have looked at Klein’s short-notice matchup with Smith as a must-win bout for the Slovak.
Klein, however, took it all in his stride. In a sharp performance, “Mr Highlight” claimed a split decision victory.
The performance made a statement; Klein belonged in the UFC, and he was here to stay.
It was a sentiment echoed by the promotion, who rewarded Klein with a new four-fight contract.
With such success, 2022 is shaping up to be a defining year for Klein’s career:
“Thank you, its great to be back in [the] win column, and I’m also happy that UFC offered me new contract; now I can show the people that I deserve to be in [the] world’s best promotion” Klein says.
For Slovakia’s first UFC athlete, it was never solely about the individual achievements. Klein was representing Slovak MMA on the world’s biggest MMA stage.
Thus there was a further cause for celebration in 2022, as Heavyweight Martin Buday became the UFC’s second Slovak athlete with his victorious promotional debut at UFC Vegas 51:
“Martin is [a] great fighter, and also [a] great person; he is my teammate, and close friend” Klein explains. “We only saw like 40% of what he is capable [of]. He is also young for Heavyweight, and he can achieve Top 15 in the future for sure”.
Of course, it is only the dawn of Slovak representation in the UFC. According to Klein, Slovakia has even more to offer:
“Good, talented fighters from Slovakia are competing in Oktagon [MMA]” Klein explains. “There is one big talent in Slovakia; Women’s Bantamweight Lucia Szabová. She has [a] baby to deliver soon, but I think she will be in UFC in one year or so”.
Ľudovít Klein now looks ahead to a bout guaranteed to deliver fireworks; a July 30th matchup with Ignacio Bahamondes at UFC 277.
The Chilean Lightweight (2-1 UFC) currently rides a two fight win-streak, with back-to-back finishes of Roosevelt Roberts and Zhu Rong. Klein is fully aware of the challenge ahead:
“My opponent is [a] tough striker” Klein explains. “He has advantage of how he is tall, and has bigger reach”.
The Bahamondes bout will be Klein’s fifth contest for the UFC. With the exception of his 2020 debut at Yas Island, however, Klein will have only competed stateside as a UFC competitor.
As such, an opportunity to compete for the promotion in Europe would be relished:
“Yes, I heard maybe Dana [White] wants to make an event in Czech Republic” Klein says. “[It] would be great for my fans [for me] to start in Europe; [I’m] looking forward for this”.
2022 has welcomed multiple fortunes for Slovakia’s UFC athletes. Moving forward, the future is looking bright for Slovak MMA, and for “Mr Highlight”.
With UFC 277 the next opportunity to witness a Slovak UFC competitor, Klein asks a simple request:
“Wish me luck, and watch me; I always try to entertain you!”.