Simeon Thoresen and the New Breed

By Tim Leidecker May 6, 2008
Ten years ago, in the dawning age of mixed martial arts, fight fans had a pretty simple notion of European mixed martial artists: They were either Dutch kickboxers or Russian samboists, with the occasional Baltic submission fighter thrown in for good measure.

The sport has since progressed tremendously. Wrestlers have realized the need to pick up jiu-jitsu, and strikers have learned how to defend against takedowns. Now there is a second generation of fighters who have grown up watching the sport on television and who are now learning all of the game's aspects.

A representative of this new breed is undefeated Norwegian welterweight Simeon Thoresen (Pictures), a talented pupil of Scandinavia's most prominent MMA son -- Joachim Hansen (Pictures). The interesting part about Thoresen's biography is that he has finished seven of his eight fights by submission, even though he had originally crossed over from gymnastics to kickboxing.

"I started training in karate as a young kid, but it did not feel right for me, so I did gymnastics from age 8 to 14," remembered the 24-year-old Thoresen. "When I came of age, I stumbled over kickboxing and I liked that much better. At the same gym, they were teaching submission wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After a thorough humiliation when training with a grappler, I started training on the ground as well and, after only two months, I was competing at submission wrestling events around Scandinavia."

Thoresen's martial arts career came to a temporary halt when he was drafted in the fall of 2003 to serve one year in the Norwegian marines. His thirst for competition wasn't quenched after he was released from military service, and he continued to dominate the Scandinavian grappling circuit. Eventually the lanky Norwegian was ready for a new challenge.

"In the summer of 2005, I started training for MMA as I planned to have my first and only amateur match later in the fall," he said. "I really enjoyed competing in MMA, and that led me to move from Sandefjord in the southwest of Norway to Oslo to train with Joachim Hansen (Pictures). There I trained hard for one year and made my pro debut in August 2006. From there it has been a really quick ride."

Hansen plays an important role in the career of Thoresen.

"Joachim is a great trainer and friend of mine, and he really sets a standard of what kind of fighter I want to become," Thoresen told "He is always there motivating and supporting me before and during the fights. And he always teaches me new ways to become a better fighter."

When he is not twisting his opponent's limbs in a ring or cage, Thoresen is pursuing the same hobbies as most people in their 20s.

"I am a big movie fan. So whenever I need to relax, I cuddle up with my fiancée and watch a film. To get out some tension, I like playing ‘God of War' on PlayStation. … There's nothing like slashing some monsters!" Thoresen said with a laugh. "I also enjoy going out, trying out new dishes in different restaurants, at least once a month. And I am an avid book reader; I read everything from crime stories to fantasy literature."

Simeon most recently armbarred Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt André Mineus and amateur Shooto champion Cole Lauritsen in one night to win the Adrenaline Sports welterweight title in Denmark. At 8-0, the 6-foot-1 submission specialist is becoming an increasingly interesting prospect for bigger shows. So when does he think he will be ready to step up to the next level and fight even stronger opposition?

"I am starting to put together my MMA game now and will probably be ready for a step up the ladder in two or three fights from now," he said. "If a good offer shows up before, I will have to consider it carefully though. When all is said and done, I am always looking for the next challenge and I love to test myself. After I defend my title in Adrenaline, I will consider my options."

Being a professional fighter in Norway is still not an easy thing to do. Like most European fighters, Thoresen has to pursue a regular job besides fighting.

"I work night shifts to support my daily training," he said. "It's hard, but I will do whatever I have to do to achieve my goal to become the next world champion in MMA. My dream is to wake up every morning knowing that MMA is my whole life. It would be awesome to know that my passion was my job.

"I hope that I will get enough recognition soon so that I can get some sponsors and keep a hundred-percent focus on developing myself as a fighter and become the best fighter I can be. Fifteen years from now, I want to continue to be involved in the sport as a trainer or a manager to help cultivate the new talents that come along."

His toughest challenge doesn't await him in Japan or the United States, though. It will take place outside the ring this summer, when Thoresen ties the knot in July.
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