It's rare in the sport of mixed martial arts to see older fighters perform at a high level past their early 30's, but it's far more rare to see an older athlete show the type of gameness that former K-1 MAX competitor Ole Laursen (5-2) has shown at this stage in his career. The Danish Muay Thai champion, who was born in Manilla, Philippines, enjoyed a successful career in the kickboxing world with the culmination of his efforts earning him the opportunity to fight some of the best in K-1. After a rather disappointing stint with K-1, Laursen has re-focused his career as a teacher in Thailand while also engulfing himself in learning everything he can about the various martial arts that encompass this sport. The results have been quite impressive, and it puts Ole Laursen at #8 on our 2011 World MMA Lightweight prospect rankings.
Offensive Skills: Obviously, Laursen's extensive background in Muay Thai and kickboxing serve as his primary means to crushing his opposition, and it's also apparent that every opponent he steps into the cage with knows that. While he does find himself on the defensive for lengthy periods of time, Laursen can unleash devastating leg kicks and flurries of blows quickly if given the opportunity. His ground and pound game is effective as well due to the strength he possesses, and his grappling is surprisingly threatening for such a green mixed martial artist.
In fact, Laursen's submission game is somewhat of an oxymoron in that he isn't a Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz by any means, yet has shown, at the very least, some better fundamental techniques on the ground than most fighters at the same point of their MMA careers. His strength and endurance is his best attribute in those situations, and look no futher than his Martial Combat I bout with Eduardo Pachu to see an perfect example of how he can grapple his way out of dangerous positions.
Defensive Skills: If you recall Laursen's stint in K-1 HERO's when he battled both Genki Sudo and Caol Uno, takedown defense was somewhat of a foreign concept, and it's still apparent today that Laursen's major weakness is his defense against single and double leg takedowns. The difference, however, is that Laursen is one of the few guys I've seen outside of the major promotions who knows how to scramble effectively. Again, his strength acts as a catalyst to his escape routines, and he's surprisingly quick in those transitions back to the feet.
On the feet, he does have some problems protecting his chin at times. His most recent fight against Jian Kai Chee at Martial Combat 12 is a perfect example as he was caught early on the chin and nearly finished. Luckily, Ole recovered and gained full mount a few moments later, securing the victory via TKO.
Progression & Learning Ability: I'm actually quite impressed with Laursen's progression in the sport. Sure, he isn't the most well-rounded fighter on the face of the Earth, and his takedown defense needs some work. But for a world class K-1 level fighter who has transitioned to mixed martial arts, it's surprising to see him work for armbar and triangle attempts, almost right out of the gate.
Environment: Similar to many of the fighters who were featured on The Ultimate Fighter, Ole Laursen has benefited greatly from having his own gym and professional trainers that can help him round out his skill-set. While many fighters on the reality series were rather raw during their appearances on the show, it's obvious that a world class camp came create champions. The same applies here as Ole didn't look very knowledgeable in his early appearances and only survived on pure grit, but he's improved greatly over the course of the last two years.
Potential: Ole is a bit of an outlier in our rankings. When smoogy first mentioned that Ole Laursen was on his list, I scoffed at the proposition. I knew of most of his K-1 failures, but I wasn't aware of his re-introduction to mixed martial arts following his losses to Sudo and Uno. The journey of a fight-by-fight viewing was all it took to suck me in though.
I think the major appeal for me is the opposition that Laursen faces. Not the actual fighters, but the idea that Laursen is entering the cage as a world class kickboxer who has a susceptibility to be taken down at will. The man has a determination and "swagger", as smoogy likes to use as an adjective regularly when describing prospects, that is undeniable. It's tough to find that fire, even in some of today's best athletes, and Laursen has it. He won't quit without going to war first, and he has the ability to unleash enough power to blast through even mid-level competition.
While he won't be vying for a Strikeforce or UFC belt in the future, he's an entertaining act to watch. He'll more than likely stick to his Asian roots, and DREAM would be a likely destination due to his involvement with K-1. But from a long-term perspective, Laursen may prove to be instrumental in helping the MMA scene in China progress, and that's always a good thing to see. His next fight will take place on November 27th at Rumble of the Kings in Stockholm, Sweden against K-1 veteran Joakim Engberg.
Ole Laursen vs. Eduardo Pachu - Martial Combat I - May 12, 2010
Ole Laursen vs. Jian Kai Chee - Martial Combat 12 - September 16th, 2010
Ole Laursen vs. Shawn David - Art of War 12: Invincible - May 23, 2009
Martial Combat - Ole Laursen Fighter Profile