An Exclusive Interview With Soren Bak
By Jon Prentice
This past week I had the opportunity to catch up with Danish MMA sensation and the current Cage Warriors lightweight champion, Soren “The True Viking” Bak (12-1-0).
It is now coming up to two months ago that Bak went into enemy territory at Cage Warriors 96 and defeated home town fan favourite Paddy Pimblett to claim the title in Liverpool. We revisited the night he won the belt, how life has changed since winning the title, and what the future holds for the 26-year-old Dane:
“It feels great! Finally having something solid for all the work put into the sport”, Bak said of getting his hands on the belt he has worked so hard for.
“Got to say, not too much has changed (since winning the belt). A few more contacts from journalists, other than that it’s just been grinding as usual at CSA. A lot of our guys have fights coming up, so now it’s a matter of helping them be the best they can be.”
On the night he won the title back on September 1st 2018, Bak avoided any immediate celebrations, opting instead explained to re-watch the fight and look for areas in which he can improve:
“Actually the first thing we did when we returned to the hotel after the fight was to watch it a few times with my coach Carsten Ettrup. Going through everything while it’s fresh is very important. As usual there is good pointers and bad ones.”
“Most obvious is of course the first round, bad that I gave him my back but quite pleased with how I handled the situation. My coach told me he was worried for just a second when Paddy caught the full rear naked choke, but he settled down when he looked me in the eyes a few moments later.”
As mentioned, Bak had a pretty disastrous first round in which Pimblett managed to get the fight to the mat, where he excels, and lock on a ferocious looking rear naked choke. Bak explained to me that despite the choke being tight, there was no way he was planning on tapping, and the preparations he and his team had put in before the fight helped him out of the situation:
“It was extremely tight, but I was never close to tapping,” Bak stated.
“Our coach uses quite a lot of time on this subject actually, meaning you have to think about these matters before you’re faced with the situation in the cage. Personally I don’t see why I should tap to a choke. When I go into a fight I’ve already sacrificed so much, I won’t lose the fight unless it’s completely out of my control. Worst case scenario in a choke, you pass out and the ref stops the fight. If you’re in an arm bar or any other locks you risk the joint in question.”
“In regards to the escape, when I realized I couldn’t grasp his hands I rolled away from the choke side he had me in, in that small scramble I managed to get a little bit of space to work with and escape.”
Having successfully seen out the first round Bak started to take over from round two onwards, eventually taking a relatively comfortable decision as the fight lasted the duration. Having won the belt in his opponents own back yard, Bak explained to me just what it is like to fight in such hostile enemy territory like that of the Echo Arena in Liverpool:
“It was quite the experience, I’ve been in enemy territory before but never on that grand of a scale. I think it’s healthy to have that experience under my belt before moving on to bigger stages.”
Despite the crowd being against him, Bak described to me how he and Pimblett actually got on fairly well in the build up to their clash, a statement that echoes what Pimblet told me in an interview I conducted with him prior to the two meeting in the cage:
“That’s true, we really hit it off. I mean we’re both good guys and the exchanges on social media were all good-natured. Although, I didn’t really anticipate how the Liverpool crowd would take my joke about the champions league finals.. they really mean business with their soccer.”
“The truth is even with the cameras rolling in the head to head interview we found it very hard to talk smack about each other. Respect your opponent, before, during and after the fight.”
It is safe to say that MMA is massively on the rise in Denmark and the surrounding Scandinavian countries, as evidenced by Cage Warriors decision to host their 103rd show in Copenhagen on March 9th 2019, the first time the promotion has visited the country since 2014. Bak explained to me how he got into MMA in his home country to begin with, and gave an update on whether fans can expect to see him defending his belt at Cage Warriors 103:
“I took the old school way to MMA . I started wrestling at age 6, at age 14 my wrestling coach told me I had to come to their new thing. Turns out they’d started a MMA team to practice after my wrestling classes, so from then I just did both. When I turned eighteen I had my first amateur fight and was hooked” Bak stated on how he got into the sport.
“I can’t really go into any specifics (about fighting at Cage Warriors 103). Though I will say I would love to fight in Copenhagen again, it’s been too long.”
In his post fight interview following the Pimblett fight, Bak called for a shot in the UFC. He has since stated he is only interested in receiving that call from Dana White, a view that was again echoed when I asked him his plans going forward and whether the UFC is the goal:
“Well seeing that I called out Dana White after my fight against Paddy, yes my goal is the UFC and I’m ready!” Bak exclaimed.
Finally, Bak gave me an insight into who his dream match up would be if he could step into the octagon and take on any opponent:
“When I started watching pro MMA, my absolute favourite fighter was Joe Lauzon. Not because he always won, but because he always went all out and always was entertaining! After my fight against Paddy, I looked myself up on fightmatrix.com only to discover I’m ranked 80 in the world of lightweights. Better ranked than Chris Fishgold who held this belt before me, but also above my first hero in the sport Joe Lauzon. That was really an eye opener for me. If he would do me the honour, I think it would be a fight for the ages!”
Whether Bak’s next walk is to the octagon in the UFC or to defend his lightweight belt for Cage Warriors, there is no denying that his involvement, and subsequent success, has boosted the profile of MMA even more in his home country of Denmark. At just 26 years old, the future is looking very bright for the CSA standout, and I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.
A big thank you to Soren for taking the time to speak to me, and myself and all at FightPost look forward to seeing him back in action in the near future.