Much controversy led to the lineup of UFC 152, scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 22, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
After the fallout from the cancellation of UFC 151, came a slew of rescheduled fights that elevated UFC 152 to one of the most stacked cards of the year. In addition to superstars like Jon Jones, Vitor Belfort, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson putting on two historic title fights, the spotlight around this card has grown.
With the added focus on the event, some of the newer additions to the UFC roster are going to get some much needed face time to put on a big show and make a name for themselves.
One of the fighters who will need to be watched closely is Simeon “The Grin” Thoresen, fighting out of Frontline Academy in Oslo, Norway. Thoresen may be fighting for only his second time in the UFC, but the 28-year-old Norwegian welterweight is a six-year veteran of MMA.
“I feel very honored to have been given such an opportunity. It makes me feel very proud to represent Norway in the UFC,” Thoresen said in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.
The 17-2-1 Thoresen went undefeated through his first nine fights in English and Danish promotions until suffering his first loss, by majority decision, in Japan. He earned a couple more wins in England, but then went to Macau for his next fight, a draw versus American Michael Costa. After three more wins in England and Northern Ireland, he traveled back to Asia for his second loss in Abu Dhabi by first-round knockout. His next three fights were in England and Sweden, all wins by rear-naked choke.
Thoresen is a complete submission artist, earning fifteen of his seventeen wins by first- or second-round submission, with one win coming by first-round TKO and one by unanimous decision. There is no doubt he is a finisher, but for his three fights that went the distance, he is 1-1-1. Thoresen will most likely be looking for an early finish at UFC 152.
So, the big question is, after coming up shy in traveling east to Asia, will Thoresen be able to pick up a win traveling west to North America?
The latitude and climate in Toronto are much closer to his home in Oslo than some of the Asian venues he has visited, and the time in Toronto is only six hours earlier than his home time zone. Thoresen does not believe it will be an issue.
“I have fought all around the world and will have more than enough time to [acclimate] myself to Canada,” Thoresen said.
At UFC 152, Thoresen will face Seth Baczynski, an American fighter who bounced around several promotions, including the IFL, before landing a spot in The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz. Although he lost in the season finale and was subsequently released from the UFC, he fought his way back in and is currently on a three-fight winning streak in the promotion and a five-fight winning streak overall.
Both of these fighters have a ton of momentum going into this weekend’s match. Thoresen is well aware of his opponent’s recent success.
“I feel it’s a very good match-up. He is a good all-around fighter,. He is coming off a number of wins in the UFC, and I am sure he will be looking to continue that,” Thoresen admitted. “I am expecting a tough fight and have prepared for this.”
The Norwegian submission artist casts no doubt about his intentions for Baczynski.
“My aim is to go there and win, but also make it an exciting fight,” said Thoresen.
There’s no reason to think anything different from a guy that has made a career out of first-and second-round finishes, a skill he picked up along the way from his longtime trainer and fellow Norwegian, Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen. Hansen is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“Joachim was a massive part of my MMA career at the beginning, a good person to learn from,” Thoresen admitted. “I really enjoyed my time working with Joachim.”
No longer training with Hellboy, Thoresen now trains out of Frontline Academy in Oslo. The welterweight said of his current camp, “It has been going very well. I have a number of good guys who train with me and push me hard.”
Thoresen also has very little problem cutting weight, which can be tough for a handful of welterweights that walk around twenty to twenty-five pounds heavy.
“I always eat clean and keep healthy, so I never put too much weight on,” stated Thoresen.
For a guy who normally fights three times per year, it is very important to stay in shape at all times. With the transition to the UFC, Thoresen’s frequency of fights has slowed a bit. In fact, UFC 152 will be only his second fight this year, but, barring any health issues, he is willing to take another fight in 2012.
“I am always ready to fight,” he said. “Ideally, I would like to have one more fight before the end of the year, so perhaps late December.”
However, Thoresen is not losing sight of the fight ahead and isn’t really thinking about whom he would like to challenge next.
“I like to take it one fight at a time,” Thoresen firmly stated. “I also leave the opponents to [UFC matchmaker] Mr. Joe Silva.”
That’s the sign of the true heart of a fighter. He doesn’t care who they put in front of him. He is just grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills on the big stage.
Outside of MMA, Thoresen leads a pretty typical life.
“I am married and have been so for a number of years,” he said. “I like to go to the cinema, eat out, and hang out with friends.”
This is not uncommon amongst career fighters who like to stay clean and live a healthy lifestyle. The image of thug, ex-con street fighters as the face of MMA is archaic at a point in the sport where professionalism reigns supreme. And Thoresen is definitely a professional.
True of most MMA fighters, Thoresen is open to any and all fans.
“I will never not respond to any fan mail or turn down an opportunity to have a photo with a fan,” Thoresen explained. “So, if you see me, come and say hi! I love the fans and have had some great support since my UFC debut. It made the win even more special!”
And, what about Thoresen’s prediction for this weekend? “A win for The Grin!” he exclaimed.
The fans will surely not be disappointed in Simeon Thoresen’s biggest fight to date. The proud Norwegian will be looking to finish Baczynski early and be ready to go for one more fight in 2012. If he puts on a good showing at UFC 152, it will surely not go unnoticed by Joe Silva, and should open some big doors for the up-and-coming welterweight.
Top Photo: Simeon Thoresen (Facebook)