FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As it stands, professional mixed martial arts isn’t legal in Norway. But PFL light heavyweight Marthin Hamlet thinks he could be the man to change that.
At the 2021 PFL Championship on Wednesday, Hamlet (8-2) battles Antonio Carlos Junior (12-5) in the $1 million light heavyweight final.
“I feel like I’m getting more attention (and) more respect about this final,” Hamlet told MMA Junkie at Monday’s media day. “Of course, the most important thing is to get this victory. After that, I guess, yeah, I’ll bring more and more and more attention here in the U.S. and especially in my country of Norway, because that win can actually mean MMA getting legal there.”
If Norwegian politicians familiarize themselves with the sport more, Hamlet thinks the laws will change. While wrestling has been long accepted and respected, boxing has only been embraced in recent years.
In October 2016, Norway ended a 32-year ban on boxing, in large part because of the success of boxer Cecilia Braekhus, a former opponent of Claressa Shields. Having seen Braekhus spearhead a successful effort, Hamlet hopes to do the same with MMA – and the PFL title will be the first step.
“People think it’s criminal,” Hamlet said. “… The (politicians) have to see that we are actually top athletes. We do our nutrition good. We do our recovery good. We do the training good. We go all in to make good wrestlers. I believe that, with young kids and young people, this sport can help them very much, not just in the same sport but in life in general. … I believe (a championship) will be the first step to make (MMA) legal, and I believe I’m the man to do that.
The 2021 PFL Championship event takes place Wednesday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla. The main card airs on ESPN2/ESPN+ after prelims on ESPN+.