Soren Bak, a man of two worlds; By day a quality-oriented back-office specialist in processes and pension at Danica Pension. By night fighting in the lightweight division in Bellator MMA.
With a record of 13-1, and on a six-fight win streak. This includes wins against Terry Brazier on his Bellator debut, Jacobsen, Pimblett, and Charierre. Bak has earned a deadly reputation as one of the most fierce competitors in the Lightweight Division.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Bak some questions about his life. So enjoy an insight into the life of “The True Viking”.
Tell us about your upbringing what is it like growing up in Denmark?
Bak – I had a great childhood, loving parents, two smaller sisters, and good friends. I grew up near the small city of Næstved in southern Zealand. My parents still live on the farm I grew up on, a lot of fond memories resides there! Open spaces, nature, and household animals.
How old were you when you first started martial arts. How did it come about?
Bak – I started Greco-Roman wrestling when I was 6 years old, inspired by my older cousins who had done well for themselves in the sport already. Going to world championships among other things.
I just kept on at it. When I turned 14 years old, MMA and Shoot Fighting was making waves in Denmark and my wrestling team “A.K. Rolf” was no exception to that. I trained wrestling from 17.00-18.30 and when this new team came to our club, they would train from 18.30-20.00. My coach at the time thought it would be a good idea if I trained with both teams, so from then on, that is what I did that.
Never mind the age requirement on the MMA team, called “TrueVikings” was 18 years old.
I spent my next years with both teams; when I started high school (Zealand Business College) in 2009, my wrestling coach retired from the sport and I was left as the most senior wrestler, naturally I became the coach. It was tough being in such a competitive sport, trying to improve the team while still competing in wrestling. In the end it didn’t make much sense, and I would pivot between competing in MMA and mostly being the wrestling coach.
After I got my diploma from ZBC in 2011, I spent a couple of years only focusing on training and coaching – financing the years by working at the local McDonald’s. This is also the time when I met my current coach Carsten Ettrup from CSA – my current team. When I had fights, I would drive from Næstved to Copenhagen 3-4 times a week after my McDonald’s shift to train with the pros at CSA.
Finally, I moved to Copenhagen in 2013 to train regularly with CSA. I decided to compete in MMA professionally, and further my education with a bachelor’s degree in finance on the side (all the while still working at McDonald’s).
In 2017, I finished my bachelor’s degree and switched from McDonald’s to one of the biggest pension scheme companies in Denmark, Danica Pension.
How did it feel to win the cage warriors Lightweight Title against Paddy Pimblett? You in front of his home crowd at CW96 and it was such a dominant performance.
Bak – To be honest, I couldn’t quite believe it. In my mind the first round was so close to disaster that I mentally blocked it out for the rest of the fight. As a consequence, thereof when walking to my corner at the bell of the fifth round I thought it was only the fourth – I was ready to go back in there for another round.
Looking back on the fight I was happy with my performance, and winning in front of the Liverpool crowd, with only 30 of my most loyal followers – friends and family was just amazing!
Talking of CW96 that entrance was something else what emotions was you feeling walking to the cage for the fight?
Bak – Obviously, nerves, first time fighting on such a massive scale with the audience against me. Next thing in my mind was what I could expect being thrown at me. Me and my coach picked up everything from coins to an old-school Nokia mobile phone!
In all fairness the Scouser’s are a great audience, rooting for their home crowd guys and gals. I expected them to be angry when I won, but what I experienced going around after the fight was a grudging respect.
With a record of 14-1 you have become accustomed to winning what to you consider your greatest victory?
Bak – Difficult to say, while I rank my championship fights from Cage Warriors high on the list, together with my Bellator debut. My first fight outside of Denmark has a special place in my heart, in Finland at Cage 30. It was not only my first fight outside of Denmark, it was also my first fight to go the distance! So, it felt like quite a war for me.
Last time out you beat Terry Brazier for your Bellator debut by unanimous decision what was it like fighting for Bellator and what’s next?
Bak – It was a great experience – everything went down smooth. Nerve racking going into such a hard fight knowing that my knee wasn’t 100% ready, it altered my game plan slightly and cost me a bit of maneuverability on the ground, however it worked out for the best in the end.
As for what’s next, I haven’t spent much time training other than rehabilitation of my knee. It is about ready to train now, so I’m getting back in shape and waiting for the government to allow combat sports to start up again.
When I’m back in full training, I’ll have a better idea on when I can get back into the cage.
Around the time you joined Bellator there were talks that UFC had been in contact. If so what made you decide to choose Bellator over them?
Bak – Without going too much into the details, a decision on what promotion to go to is not a light one. A lot of hours of contemplating with my coaches, wife and my agent were spent on this endeavor. In the end we were looking for the best deal we could find anywhere. Not just the financial terms, but all the way around. Bellator presented the best deal on the table and the best opportunity.
Your only loss came at the hands of Mantykivi. How eager are you to avenge the loss? Is it a fight that is possible to make?
Bak – Initially I was very eager and to this day it still stings my pride a bit. I will say it has gotten better over the years, seeing how our careers have differed since that fight. I think I’m stronger for it.
If the offer came along, I would look at it with my team – but to be honest, I’m in this for the long run and in order to climb the rankings you need to find people at least close to your own ranking in the fight world.
Your Nickname ‘The True Viking’ how did that come about.?
Bak – My first MMA team gave me the nickname before I left them for the ‘big city’. Also, I’ve always been fascinated by history. Among other things, I make my own mead and I wear Mjølner around my neck – so I walk the walk.
What would you like to achieve in MMA?
Bak – I’m going all the way. First step is to establish myself in Bellator’s lightweight division, then ranked fights, then you know I’m coming for that belt. When that belt is mine no one is safe!
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