(Hansen, training hard for the encounter with Fernandes. Exclusive image © 2010 TNASport & Darren Benson)
“At the weigh-in I was very light, even after breakfast,” Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen admitted as part of his explanation for dropping weight classes. The weigh-in in question was for his Dream featherweight title fight with Shinya Aoki; “Hellboy” being the champion and Aoki being the challenger. He tipped the skills at just 150.3lbs for the contest and, in a world of big weight cutters, that is almost unheard of. Most lightweight fighters will be well into the 170-180lbs region before making the cut, precisely adapting their diet and cutting regime to hit the limit.
“I’ve always been somewhere in between the two weight classes. So, when I got home to my native soil after the loss against Aoki, I decided to make the drop. If I do the drop the weight correctly, I see myself being big at featherweight. I believe I’m using the right weight-cutting techniques.”
These techniques have been utilised by many athletes since the implementation of weight classes, especially relevant in combat sports. Hansen looked to a training partner and friend called Jack Hermanson for his expertise to perfect the drop.
“I’m 66kg on an empty belly in morning now,” Hansen revealed. “I’ve changed my diet after learning how the wrestlers do it.
“I train with a guy called Jack Hermanson who has a strong background in Greco Roman and has a deep understanding of diet and nutrition. He told me his techniques and has been working with me. I usually walked around at 69-70 kg but I always lose 1kg when I go to Japan because of the difference in the food culture. My aim is to be 65.5kg on an empty stomach when in Japan. I’ve been practicing weight cutting a few times now, I can do 2.5-3kg easy and rehydrate back up without any problems and not lose any strength.”
As a highly-successful lightweight, the thought of Hansen at featherweight is sure to whet the appetite of the fans. Whilst giving away size advantages to the likes of Aoki, Calvancanti and Gomi, Hansen still managed to collect the Shooto belt and the Dream lightweight tournament belt. The possibilities for him at featherweight are almost endless, and they begin with a title tilt against Bibiano Fernandes.
A quick reflection on the Hansen vs. Aoki preceded his statements about Fernandes, however.
I had two choices [in the fight against Aoki]. Stay solid and let the time run out, or try to get out and try to land one in his big head. I went for the second choice as I felt I was losing the fight,” Hansen revealed. He tapped to Aoki’s armbar just four seconds from the end of the bout but has no regrets. The record between the pair now stands at 2-1, something “Hellboy” won’t be dwelling on too much on, although there are some grievances.
“Right now I’m focusing on the new weight division I’m gonna fight in,” Joachim said. “But, if I fight Aoki again, I will have a neutral referee. About the groin kick, I felt my heel hitting something hard, and I am sorry for that, but next time, wear a good cup. Saying that, Aoki is not an easy guy to grapple with. But if we – and we shall – meet again, it’s under ancient Brazilian vale tudo rules.”
He is looking towards Fernandes, the featherweight tournament champion, as a tough test on his debut in the new weight class. Fernandes overcame Takafumi Otsuka, Masakazu Imanari, Joe Warren and Hiroyuki Takayi to claim the title and his ability in all ranges was impressive, but particularly his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“Bibiano looks like a good fighter, skilled in BJJ, hard hitter and kicker,” “Hellboy” noted. “Bibiano looked impressive in the Dream GP. I am training hard for this fight so I can and will be at my best.”
Of the future, Hansen doesn’t want to take anything for granted. The title fight with Fernandes is imminent and, should he have the championship gold around his waist again, he’ll likely be in the East for the foreseeable future, defending his belt. With new ties between Strikeforce and Dream opening up the promotions to fighter-swapping though, it could see him head back to America with Joachim stating “it would be nice to fight in the States again.”
For now, he has the unenviable task of facing Bibiano Fernandes and a school to run in his native Norway. Whilst Joachim is an accepted figure worldwide for his mixed martial arts exploits, things aren’t necessarily the same at home and he is aiming to turn that around and churn out some successful fighters from his school and the country in general.
“We are a little behind here in Norway when it comes to the MMA scene,” was the response from Joachim when asked about the local circuit. “K-1 only became legal some weeks ago. The “Church and Culture Department” made it legal, so you see what we are up against. We have to ask those who burned us at the stake in the dark ages.
“But Team Hellboy now has a strong team of fighters coming through,” he continued enthusiastically. “Four of our fighters all won last month, two were knockouts and the other two were by TKO so there are future stars in the camp. We need more fights though, so please contact Jay, my manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, he has the info you need about my Norwegian MMA fighters.”
With Hansen leading the way and hoping to pick up another prestigious title, hopefully the next generation of Norwegian warriors can follow suit and show that the Scandinavian nations are here and able to make an impact.
Look out for Joachim’s battle against Biabiano Fernandez on the 22nd of March when Dream 13 takes place in Yokahoma, Japan.