How does Norwegian MMA scene look like?
MMA is a very popular sport in the Nordic countries save for Norway where it remains illegal. MMA – Mixed Martial Arts is a sport with a long history and strong presence in most countries around the world. Unlike in Norway, MMA is very popular in Sweden where several tournaments have been held over the past years.
In Norway, any sports activity that involves knock-out as a means to secure a victory or earn points is illegal. This means that MMA and boxing are not allowed in the country. Even though the MMA sport has a considerable following in the country, the MMA fighters have to travel abroad in order to compete. In 2012, the Norwegian MMA Federation (NMMAF) was elected as a member of the International MMA Federation (IMMAF). The NMMAF is made up of 49 member gyms which are spread across the country.
In 2012 the concept of “Merkekamper” was introduced by the NMMAF in Norway. The idea behind this concept is that member MMA gyms in the country can hold events with sparring matches. The government did sanction this concept but the rules governing these matches are very strict and a fighter is even restricted as to how hard he or she can strike.
The MMA scene in Norway
According to Tarjei Morkve, who runs an MMA-related website in Norway, MMA has a very long road to go in the country. Professional MMA is banned in the country alongside pro boxing which was banned in 1981. He, however, notes that there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
There is generally a lot of misconception about what exactly MMA is. To some, the sport involves going into some abandoned warehouse and engaging in ‘to-the-death’ fights which have few or no rules. Far from that, Tarjei insists, MMA is a modern game with strict rules of engagement. In so many ways, there is prejudice but this mainly comes about because of lack of knowledge. There are many times that he has to defend the MMA from people who have never even watched it. An encouraging thing though about the sport is that the fan-base is growing by the day.
The MMA as a sport in Norway
There are many fighters from Norway who have participated in MMA matches around the world. The legendary Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen strongly put Norway in the global map of MMA with sensational victories. He is a true success story which keeps inspiring young MMA professionals. There is also Thomas Moon Lee who has been in the MMA scene for quite some time.
Fighters such as Dan Everson and Jon Olav Einemo are some of the MMA fighters who have managed to break through to the UFC. There is Simeon Thoresen who is currently fighting in the ‘Cage of Warriors’ and who has won 17 of his 23 matches. The other names worth mentioning include those of Emil W. Meek, Jack Hermansson, Celine Haga and Gard Olve Sagen and among others.