• Sweden edition
 
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS IN SWEDEN
Blood, sweat and no fear: the UFC hits Stockholm

Blood, sweat and no fear: the UFC hits Stockholm

Published: 12 Apr 2012 13:37 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Apr 2012 13:37 GMT+02:00

The evening's fights, which will take place at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena, have sparked huge interest in Sweden as it’s the first UFC visit since Sweden legalized mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2008.

The event features four additional Swedish competitors besides Gustafsson, who claims that, despite the home-crowd advantage, he will be treating it as an ordinary fight.

“Everybody will be there supporting me and it will be a little bit strange since I have been abroad so much, but a fight is a fight and I will prepare as before,” he tells The Local.

“At the end of the day, it's just me and another fighter in the cage.”

“The Mauler” has only lost one of his fourteen fights and on Saturday he fights Brazilian Ju Jitsu black belt Thiago Silva.

A win would be Gustafsson’s fifth in a row and there are rumours that he will soon fight for the world championship.

However, it is not just Gustafsson who has sparked Sweden’s interest in the sport.

The fact that a live mixed martial arts live show will be performed in Stockholm has caused a surge in interest in Sweden.

Ryan O'Leary of the mixed martial arts fan website “MMA Viking” told The Local how gobsmacked he is by the fans' response.

“The site has received so many emails and messages through Facebook and Twitter, it has been crazy," he explains.

"Just from Scandinavia, we have had over 100,000 visitors, so you'd be surprised how many fans are discovering the sport."

As the new fans continue to pour in, Gustafsson himself is also predicting big things for the sport.

“It is not a mainstream sport yet, but after this event it will be, the people in Sweden are very open minded,” he said.

Since signing for the UFC, Gustafsson has been fighting all over the world, including Australia, Abu Dhabi and the US.

For the first time in three years, he will be fighting just over an hour away from his home town of Arboga in central Sweden.

But the sport’s popularity in Sweden has walked a long road.

Swedish egulations have been late in catching up with the popularity of combat sports abroad.

Boxing was banned for thirty years and an MMA ban was added in 2007.

In 2008 though, the ban was rescinded and a number of small MMA promotions have begun putting on events.

At the same time, MMA-focused gyms have sprung up all over Sweden.

O'Leary agrees that while the sport is not there yet, mainstream interest is where it is heading.

“It is surprising that everything has come together so quickly. Having the event at the Globe, where the NHL kicks off their season, says something about how far the sport has come," he says.

MMA is a young sport, with the first UFC event occurring in the US in 1993.

The sport has its roots deep in professional wrestling in Japan and no-holds-barred fighting in Brazil.

Modern competitors utilize skills from diverse arts such as boxing, wrestling, Ju Jitsu and kick boxing in a fight which can occur on the feet, against the cage wall or on the ground.

The bouts take place in a 1.5-metre tall steel cage, which is in place to prevent combatants from falling out. A bout can be won by knockout, technical knockout or submission (when a fighter gives up due to a choke or joint manipulation).

While it may sound brutal and can get bloody, mixed martial arts has a surprisingly healthy safety record, with no deaths or serious injuries having occurred in a UFC event.

That being said, broken bones and concussions are not uncommon.

While Sweden's first UFC event is big news, smaller promoters have been holding events featuring some of Europe's top talent for years.

Stockholm-based Superior Challenge is one such organization that has served as a starting point for some of Sweden's UFC stars.

Having cut their teeth in smaller shows, Reza Medadi, an experienced wrestler, Magnus Cedenblad, a young all-rounder, and Jorgen Kruth, a veteran kick boxer, all search for wins in their UFC debuts.

Success could be the start of a career as successful as Gustafsson's.

While the event at the Globe itself has sold out, fans can watch the event live on Canal+ Sport.

UFC fighters will also be making appearances around Stockholm to answer questions and UFC President Dana White will be conducting his traditional game of hide and seek on the streets of Stockholm, with fight night tickets as prizes.

With Gustafsson looking to maul himself one step closer to a world title, and four other fighters looking to cement their place on the biggest stage their sport offers, Swedish sport has a lot gain this weekend, as UFC continues fighting to become a mainstream sport in Sweden.

Your comments about this article

17:25 April 12, 2012 by Achilles7
I love the way they keep referring to it as a 'sport' - and not only that, but to the fact that it is a 'growing sport'. Since when did punching and kicking somebody become a sport? At least with boxing they are wearing padded gloves and there are many rules.

And apparently it's safe, despite the fact that 'broken bones and concussions are not uncommon'. Hmm....

It makes you wonder about the type of people who enjoy this kind of thing...
18:59 April 12, 2012 by Rod Munch
@Achilles7-

It is a sport. Martial arts have been apart of the Olympics since their inception. The fighters wear padded gloves as well. Please look into this a little more before passing judgment.
19:21 April 12, 2012 by calebian22
Haven't been overly impressed with the Mauler so far. His bouts have been yawn fests. I'm very interested in seeing how he does against real competition like Silva. Homeless on the streets of Sau Paolo breeds a hunger that doesn't exist in Sweden.
21:37 April 12, 2012 by johan rebel
Who cares what consenting adults do to each other? And who cares what they call it?
23:57 April 12, 2012 by Exiled
Infomercial. A not-so-subtle form of advertising.
08:08 April 13, 2012 by Cephalectomy
#1 that dude should look up the definition of sport again
17:27 April 13, 2012 by Svensksmith
Actually, achilles, MMA participants are some of the most well conditioned athletes on the planet. Much more so thay, say, golfers.
15:13 April 14, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
This crap is hardly a "sport". Only people with brains the size of peas would be a fan of such a dumbed down caveman-like spectacle.
05:42 April 16, 2012 by jomamas
This is a great sport.

To all of you losers condemning this as 'sport' - in fact, it is the ORIGINAL SPORT, practiced by cultures before and during the original Olympics. (Usually naked and oiled up!)

It is far more fair that boxing and a better measure than other forms of martial arts.

It is a true test.

The fighters are highly disciplined, courageous, and have a great deal of respect for one another. They are not 'aggressive' jerks - that is the audience.

It's the people in the audience that are the problem, not the competitors.
12:21 April 16, 2012 by EtoileBrilliant
"Who cares what consenting adults do to each other? And who cares what they call it?"

No one apparently. DN gave two pages over to on on Sunday and had to admit that the stands were less than 10% full.

Don't believe the hype!
17:32 April 16, 2012 by Rod Munch
The event was absolutely awesome. One of the better UFC cards this year so far. The gate did over $2 million. The haters can keep hating but this is the fastest rising sport in the world so get used to it.
15:01 April 17, 2012 by RosemarysBaby80
MMA is a sport for fighters how aren't particularly good at any one style of fighting. So they take refuge with other back ally brawlers and call it Ultimate Fighting.

It's a disgrace to all styles of boxing and martial arts.
Today's headlines
Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app
File photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app

Swedish police are struggling to know what to do with a new batch of criminal reports filed by teenagers upset about a controversial app that allows users to post comments and pictures anonymously. READ  

National
Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

UPDATED: A Swedish runner who filmed himself beating his bus in Sundbyberg in north west Stockholm over the weekend is now planning to a similar challenge on the capital's Metro system. READ  

Regional
Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden
Strong winds are battering Stockholm and the east coast of Sweden. Photo: TT

Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden

Heavy rain and wind have left thousands without electricity in eastern Sweden, with ferries also disrupted by the storm. READ  

National
Sweden's benefit agency website down
Sweden's Social Insurance Agency is experiencing problems. Photo: TT

Sweden's benefit agency website down

Sweden's Social Insurance Agency website was out of action on Monday, as officials promised that the technical fault would not delay benefit payments. READ  

Elections 2014
Budget headache for new coalition partners
Social Democrat economic spokesperson Magdalena Andersson with Per Bo from the Green Party. Photo: TT

Budget headache for new coalition partners

UPDATED: The Social Democrats have been holding talks with the Green party to try and agree on a future coalition budget. But questions remain over how they will work together on issues including defence and nuclear power. READ  

National
US runaway banned from name change in Sweden
'Wanted' photograph of David Hemler used by US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Hemler lives and works in Uppsala. Photo: Shutterstock

US runaway banned from name change in Sweden

A US airman who deserted from the military three decades ago and moved to Sweden has failed in his bid to get his old name back, because a Swedish court says he can’t prove his identity. READ  

My Swedish Career
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Sharleen in action. Photo: Sebastian Bularca

Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet a Canadian who came to Sweden for love and now works in Lidköping, custom-making guitars. READ  

Regional
Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden
Stockholm experienced heavy rain on Sunday. Photo: TT

Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden

After heavy rain broke off the September sunshine in eastern Sweden on Sunday, forecasters warn more bad weather is on the way. READ  

Tech
World car record on Malmö bridge

World car record on Malmö bridge

The longest electric car parade on a bridge between two countries was formed on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark on Sunday, with environmental campaigners breaking several other world records in the process. READ  

National
Two hurt in Helsingborg ferry crash
The damaged ferry is being inspected on Monday. Photo: TT

Two hurt in Helsingborg ferry crash

UPDATED: A ferry crashed into a pier in the port of Helsingborg in southern Sweden on Sunday night, with two people taken to hospital following the collision. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: September 20th
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Blog updates

22 September

Welcome National Geographic! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"What comes to mind when you think of the “The Arctic”? Crystal-encased cliffs jutting from the sea, baronial Polar bears scavenging over sheets of cracked ice or a lone explorer heading north into the night. The image my mind invokes is of three sparkling green lines splashed across the sky like graffiti— the Aurora Borealis— our..." READ »

 

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

849
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN