All over the world, there are professional fighters who feel they deserve a shot on the biggest stage in mixed martial arts, the UFC. Although it’s never a bad thing to have a career goal, some feel they are deserving when, in actuality, they are borderline delusional. However, occasionally, a fighter comes along who is in a position to be successful for a very long time.

Legends of the sport like Vitor Belfort and B.J. Penn first entered the Octagon at ages 19 and 22, respectively. Both men eventually earned world championships, had long, storied careers, and are still fighting into their mid-late 30s. A more recent example of a dynamic newcomer is Brandon Thatch. Thatch first entered the cage in 2008, at age 23, and is now one of the fastest rising stars in the UFC, finishing all of his 11 pro wins in the first round. Well, a new young star is set to hit the Octagon this Saturday night, and the future is all his.

Bektic (top) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Bektic (top) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

At only 23 years old, Mirsad Bektic has had one crazy life already. He was born in Bosnia, but war caused his family to flee to Germany, where he lived as a refugee. After ultimately landing in Nebraska, he began training with Mid-America Martial Arts. Between the ages of 18 and 20, Bektic racked up a nice 9-0 record as an amateur, finishing every opponent he faced. He made his pro debut in July 2011, eventually moved to American Top Team’s main camp in Coconut Creek, Fla., and is now 7-0 as a pro.

In his combined 16 fights, only three opponents have made it into the third round with Bektic, and only one has made it bell-to-bell. Needless to say, this kid is a force to be reckoned with and has been on many folks’ watch lists for well over a year now. As strange as it is to say for such a young fighter, his UFC debut is long overdue.

Bektic’s last opponent, Joe Pearson, is a very familiar face on the Midwest fight scene. At 43-20-1, Pearson has 41 more fights under his belt than Bektic has life years. Of his 43 wins, Pearson has finished everyone he has beaten, including 39 by submission, and has never been to a decision, even in his losses.

Bektic went into the battle expecting to win on his feet. Pearson pulled guard and, in about 90 seconds, Bektic battered Pearson on his way to a TKO victory.

“I thought, when I was going for it, that I was going to be in trouble in the guard, but I was just way too strong and way too ferocious for him,” Bektic told The MMA Corner. “I think I was just too much for him, you know?”

That win came on Dec. 14, 2013, and the wait began. When would the UFC finally open their eyes to this Bosnian-born destroyer who could be the next best thing?

The UFC has been known to move fast on signing some fighters while dragging its feet on others. Bektic is a cool, calm and collected individual. He has no criminal offenses, has never been popped for any drugs, doesn’t act like a knucklehead, and is all business in the cage. It should have been a no-brainer, but it still took four months for the organization to make a move.

“I got the call, and I started jumping up and down, yelling, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! I’ll take the fight!’” Bektic exclaimed. “Then, they had to go back to him and offer him the fight, and he said yes. About a week later, they announced it.”

On March 21, Bektic finally signed a four-fight deal to compete in the UFC. Some may feel it was overdue, but he is still very young. His first Octagon opponent is Chas Skelly, a native Texan and NAIA All-American wrestler who is also undefeated as a pro fighter.

“He trains at Johny Hendricks’ camp, and he’s a good wrestler and good at jiu-jitsu, you know?” Bektic said. “And he’s tall.”

At 5-foot-7, Bektic is around the average height for a UFC featherweight, whereas Skelly, at 5-foot-11 with a 73-inch reach, is a lengthy 145-pounder. However, even with his long reach, Skelly prefers to take it to the ground, where he has finished over half of his opponents by submission.

Bektic (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Bektic (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

“I feel like I have a lot to offer in each area to anybody,” Bektic explained. “Whether it’s a stand-up fighter or a ground guy, I’m well-rounded. I believe in my skills, and I believe I’m getting better with every fight in every one of those areas. I’m always working on all those things, so if I’m going up against a striker, I feel I match up well as a striker, and if it’s a ground guy, I match up well there.”

Bektic prefers crushing his opponents with his hands, but between his pro and amateur fights, he does have four chokes and two striking submissions under his belt. He really is a threat anywhere the fight goes. Skelly may be the larger fighter, but Bektic is powerful and much more well-rounded.

“I just like to let the fight happen, you know?” said the youngster. “Give people something to talk about and look forward to. It’s going to be an exciting fight. He’s going to go out and try to play his game, and I’m going to go out and try to play my game, and the better person is going to win. Somebody’s gotta go.

“He’s a tough dude—a really tough guy. I’m going out there for a war. It’s going to be a great way to set the tone for everybody on that card.”

This Saturday night, the Octagon returns to Fox for the 11th time with UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne, live from the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. Bektic and Skelly are scheduled for the second fight of the evening, and the matchmakers really hit the nail on the head with this one, which should be an all-out war.

Bektic has been through a lot in a short time, but his maturity shows in the cage. The former refugee has the potential to be the next Penn or the next Belfort as he enters the cage for his UFC debut, joining the ranks of guys like Rory MacDonald and Thatch.

“Man, first and foremost, I’m going to get this ‘W,’ focus on Chas. I’m not looking past April 19, but as far as my goals, I just want to win this fight and try to get in the top 10. My goal is to get in the top 10 this year.

“I finish. He finishes. We’re both undefeated. We’re both newcomers to the UFC. We’re both trying to prove ourselves.”

Bektic would like to thank God for giving him everything he has in life, including his family, friends, coaches, training partners and fans. He would also like to thank his sponsors: Jaco, JW Culinary, The Dolce Diet, MP, Perfecting Athletes, Back & Body Wellness, J & H Specialty Contracting, SignGraphix, Athology, Bofshever Wellness Center and American Top Team. Follow Mirsad on Twitter: @MirsadBekticMMA