PRIDE, K-1 veteran Branko Cikatic dead at 65

Branko Cikatic
Image via KickboxingZ (photographer not listed)

PRIDE veteran and K-1 veteran Branko Cikatic passed away on Monday, March 23 in Croatia at the age of 65 due to Parkinson’s disease.

Numerous combat sports websites reported the sad news early this week.

Cikatic was mostly known as one of K-1’s biggest superstars in the early days of kickboxing, but he also fought twice in MMA for PRIDE. He lost to Mark Kerr via DQ at PRIDE 2 in March 1998 and then lost at PRIDE 7 to Maurice Smith by submission in September 1999. He also fought in a kickboxing bout at PRIDE 1 in October 1997, fighting to a No Contest against Ralph White.

While MMA wasn’t his calling, the sport of kickboxing certainly was. Cikatic began competing in kickboxing in 1981 until the end of his career in 1999, amassing a professional kickboxing record of 87-9-1, 1 NC with 82 wins by way of knockout. He also had an amateur kickboxing record of 152-15-3, with 138 wins by way of knockout.

Cikatic won the inaugural K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in 1993, where he knocked out Ernesto Hoost in the main event of the evening. He also came in third place in the K-1 Grand Prix, among the numerous other accomplishments of his long and distinguished combat sports career.

Cikatic was also one of the coaches of PRIDE legend Mirko Cro Cop, his fellow countryman from Croatia. Like Cikatic, Cro Cop achieved fame on the international fighting scene in kickboxing, and both men helped each other succeed as teacher and student, respectively.

In 2018 Cikatic suffered from a pulmonary embolism and later suffered an infection that led to sepsis. He also started to suffer from Parkinson’s disease around the same time, which ultimately ended up costing him his life. Cikatic may be gone, but his influence on combat sports will live on for years to come. We at BJPenn.com wish his family well during this difficult time.

What is your favorite memory of Branko Cikatic?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/26/2020.