How come you started with MMA?
I have been doing martial arts all my life. When they started an MMA club in my hometown, it felt natural to start with MMA. It was new and I wanted to try it – you can say I got hooked.
For how long have you been fighting?
I was 16 when I started, so that will make it 14 years.
What is the fascination with the sport?
It is like with any sport anywhere; it’s competing and trying to be the best. It is really all about the 15 minutes standing in the ring man to man. I am training three to four months for just that moment and the excitement is that you should perform in such a short time. That’s where the big allure lies for me.
Do you feel like you have a good handle on your opponent for the game in Brazil in September, Rafael Natal?
Yes, it feels good, we have done much research and it feels like I have the situation under control. I’ve learned about his strengths and what he does well. He kicks a lot but is not as clean in his technique, but he is also dangerous on the ground.
How have you combined MMA and a career as a researcher?
It works really well and really is the perfect arrangement for me. I could not find a better job that allows me to combine my MMA training with it. When I was still in school, it was a little bit tougher to combine sports and Engineering Physics studies. At the same time, I worked alongside in order to save up for my training trips. I could go part time, but not in the same way as now. Now it works fine, I have a job where I have a lot of freedom. Sometimes I do some projects with others and then there is more planning needed. I have an understanding boss and luckily, he is an MMA fan.
What is your best feature as an athlete?
I never give up. I have the will, I want to be the best and I want to train hard.
From where do you think you got that quality?
Good question, it feels natural after a while. I have always liked challenges and I like to push myself to reach the top. As a kid, I really was not spoiled by my parents and I always had to take me to the training myself. I think I’ve learned that hard work pays off.
What is your long-term goal?
It is to get the belt in the UFC. That is my only goal. And then to keep it, of course.
What do you think of your chances then?
Grasping onto the belt is the goal, and will be as long as I develop as a fighter. I am 30 years now and I will fight as long as my body will let me do, and that I still think it is fun to exercise. Right now, I feel motivated and every year I feel stronger.
Do you ever reflect on that you are fighting against another human?
No, you get use to it; you see it more as a sport. I have of course full understanding for those who are not accustomed to it.
It feels like a pretty injury prone sport?
I would not say that. It is not so many severe damages in MMA, like knee injuries. Mostly, it is bruises and external injuries that will heal in a couple of days. In this sport, there are two people facing each other and there is not much that can go wrong. Sometimes it happens, though. For instance, I broke my nose once.
How is the combination of researching and fighting? Is it a conscious choice?
It is highly unconsciously actually, I have not thought about it very much. For me, it always feels natural to do two things I like to do. I have tried studying something else too, but I never thought it was fun. When I started studying, I felt that math and physics are interesting subjects and something I want to continue with, together with MMA of course.
Is it a coincidence that many Swedish fighters are here in San Diego?
I think San Diego is the perfect city for Swedish people; the weather is great, all year round, it is ”laid-back”, and not “too American”. Then there are many good gyms here, including Alliance, which is a good gym that most people go to.
How much do you travel?
It is between three and four months per year that I am away from my home in Umeå.
Do you have time to enjoy any of the travel as well?
Yeah, I think you can. It is not really as if you are going on a holiday, but it is still nice. A fun piece of fighting is travelling, and it is especially nice to change environment. There is only one negative thing with it, and that is that you cannot be with your family.
What do you think of San Diego?
I enjoy the environment here, it is near the sea and the weather is nice. This is actually my third time here.
What is your favorite area?
Last time we were here we stayed at Coronado. It is a really nice and beautiful area – definitely one of my favorite areas here in San Diego.
Would you be willing to stay in the U.S.?
I would rather live in Sweden but it is a great place to visit. Even though Sweden is dark and cold, there is something special about Swedish summers. But I will definitely come back to San Diego, preparing for my upcoming fights.