MFC title contender Elvis (The King) Mutapcic can thank his forgetful father for his name.
Living in Bosnia at the time, his parents were both Elvis Presley fans but his dad was also a huge Bruce Lee buff. When his second son was on the way, Mr. Mutapcic wanted to name him after Brandon Lee, Bruce's son.
"Which was very uncommon for a Bosnian name," Elvis explained. "There is no such thing in Bosnia as the name of Brandon."
Which might explain why Mr. Mutapcic could not think of the name when it came time to register it.
"The next best thing he could think of was Elvis, so I got named after Elvis Presley," said his son.
Years later -- and after having to dig into his pocket many times to produce the ID that proves his name is legit -- Elvis Mutapcic wants to add champion to his name.
Mutapcic (11-2) faces unbeaten Joseph (Leonidas) Henle on Friday in Edmonton for a Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight crown that has gathered dust in recent years.
Amazingly, the last time the 185-pound title was up for grabs was at MFC 9 in March 2006. Patrick (The Predator) Cote defeated Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald but then left the organization to take part in Season 4 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show.
The championship belt has been without a home since.
Henle (8-0-1) was featured on Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter," defeating future UFC fighter Constantinos Philippou before losing to Seth Baczynski. Henle did not stick with the UFC but has won five straight with one draw since leaving the show.
"On a skill (level) from one to 10, he's definitely a high nine," said Mutapcic. "He's a well-rounded guy, tough, comes forward. He won't stop until you shut him off or put him to sleep."
Henle, 29, has never lost. Mutapcic, 26, has never been finished.
Mutapcic (pronounced Moo-tap-cheech) believes his experience will make the difference in the five-round bout, having fought and won a title before.
"When you're in those deep waters and you've got to dig deep, I've been there," Mutapcic said. "I've been in wars. I've been in sports where you've lost your locker-room and you don't remember that fifth round.
"I've been there. I think that's an advantage for me."
Mutapcic defeated Mike Van Meer in November 2009 for the Midwest Cage Combat championship. He has gone 6-1 since, defeating future TUF Brazil winner Cezar (Mutante) Ferreira along the way.
Mutapcic disposed of the Brazilian with a brutal left, ending the fight in just 25 seconds in August 2011.
A knee injury cost him a shot at the Superior Cage Combat title last November.
Mutapcic and Henle both made their MFC debuts in August at MFC 34. They each collected first-round wins, with Mutapcic stopping Jacen Flynn via TKO in 1:39 and Henle earning a TKO over submission specialist Luke Harris at 1:57.
Mutapcic was 14 when he left Sarajevo with his family in search of a better life. Leaving a ravaged post-war country behind them, they settled in Iowa where an uncle sponsored them.
Growing up in Bosnia, his memories are bleak.
"Wartime. Hunger. Fear," he recalled,
But there were also plenty of dreams, both long- and short-term.
"I remember just wishing that I could leave the house basement, go outside and play without fear of being shot at," said Mutapcic, who has an older and younger brother. "It was definitely a rough experience growing up but it was something I wouldn't change for the world."
"Also some great memories," he added. "When you don't know if you're going to live or die, there's a lot of things that you do that you don't even think about, that most people wouldn't do. Later on you're glad you've done them."
Asked for examples, Mutapcic cites running across a field that was know to attract sniper fire, just to see if he could outrun a sniper. In first or second grade, he used to climb on what little of the roof was left on abandoned houses and then jump off.
"Things that people would consider crazy in the United States, for us kids was normal during the war."
Coming over to the U.S., he said he didn't do very well in English classes. But "chasing girls and having fun and getting work" proved to be powerful motivators to learn the language.
Mutapcic did a little karate and kickboxing in Bosnia but nothing serious. A homemade punching heavy bag also kept him busy in the front yard.
"I was always kind of a rowdy kid, you could say," he explained. "I was always in fights."
His interest in combat sports was piqued in the U.S. when a friend showed him a tape of the UFC.
"I said 'I can do this' and I kind of got laughed at," he said. "A little later I started doing it and everybody told me I was going to get hurt and quit doing it."
Mutapcic never quit and now says those critics have become some of his biggest supporters.
He started in MMA fights on the local bar scene, lying about his age by saying he was 18 on the required waiver. A promoter noticed him and he started rising the local fight ladder.
These days he trains in Des Moines with veteran UFC fighter Josh (The Dentist) Neer.
"For me fighting is sport," Mutapcic said. "Maybe that's why I'm so calm about it. To me, I always compare it to playing chess and I'm not even a chess player. But it's move for move, you try and force your opponent to make a mistake and if you can do that, you try to capitalize on that to end the game."
He has no plans to leave Des Moines, saying the Iowa climate is similar to Bosnia. In addition to training and fighting, he has a full-time job as a maintenance industrial mechanic looking after heavy machinery.
"My day starts at five o'clock in the morning and I don't get home until 9:30 at night," he said.
"That said, I have a very patient fiancee who only gets to see me an hour a day and a little bit on the weekends."