A Viking is about to pull up of the shores of Bellator and ready to declare war on anyone who stands in his way to the lightweight throne. Draped in animal skin and with an axe to honour his heritage in hand, Soren Bak will make his walk to the cage stone-faced and stoic as usual while a ominous, familiar drone reverberates around Wembley Arena next month.
Fans haven’t seen Bak (12-1) compete since March earlier this year when he picked up his second Cage Warriors title after dropping down a weight class to ensure that ‘two-weight champion’ will always be associated with his name. Many suggested following the victory that a call up to the UFC was right around the corner, especially with the then upcoming Copenhagen card in September where Bak could compete in front of his home country. However, fast forward several months and that opportunity never came to fruition. The UFC’s first card in Denmark came along but Bak’s name was nowhere to be seen on the show. This was surprising considering that holding Cage Warriors gold usually leads to a UFC contract. Initially, ‘The Viking’ was disappointed to not find himself featured at the event but is happy with the path that his career has now taken.
“We had long talks with the UFC after my second Cage Warriors title was won in Denmark,” revealed Bak. “A deal wasn’t done because the right offer was never presented to me. At first, I was quite disappointed that they didn’t give me a suitable contract as I definitely deserved a spot on that card. However, the UFC never sign very many local fighters and I think as a nation we were lucky to get two solid guys on that stage. The direction my career is going is different now and I think that is exciting.”
In a surprising move that hardly anyone on the European scene saw coming, around a month ago it was announced that the 27-year-old would be plying his trade in Bellator. It is a signing that does make sense given the promotion’s push into the market over the past year and Bak’s character could be a great fit for the way the company like to put video packages together on their entrance screens. The Dane can’t wait to get started in his new home and is delighted with the way that his new contract will change his life.
“We’d been talking to many different promotions over the last few months but Bellator had the best overall offer,” explained Bak. “When I was given the details of my new deal, I was out for an evening walk with my wife. The news of the contract’s terms changed our conversation drastically that night!”
Bak signed to Cage Warriors in 2017 and competed five times in the promotion, going undefeated while picked up two titles. His dominant and well-known grappling game was on display in all of his fights there. The third of those appearances came in Sweden against lightweight standout, Alexander Jacobsen, where Bak defeated his opponent in a statement, bloody victory which earned him a shot at the title. For the biggest opportunity in his career, he travelled into enemy territory and faced local hero, Paddy Pimblett, at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. It was a really hostile atmosphere but Bak survived an early scare to dominate one of the biggest stars in Cage Warriors on the way to a unanimous decision victory.
Once he captured the lightweight belt, ‘The Viking’ didn’t see many other challenges at 155lbs so decided to vacate that title and move down to featherweight in a questionable move considering how dominant he looked in his previous outings. He was booked to immediately challenge featherweight champion at the time, Dean Trueman, in Denmark but the Englishman suffered an injury close to the bout. Instead, Morgan Charriere stepped in as a last minute opponent and an interim belt was introduced. It was a very close and competitive contest where Bak just picked up the strap via a majority decision. After claiming his second title, Bak realised that the cut to 145lbs depleted his body too much so he would return to lightweight. Bak admitted that his body needed a considerable amount of time to recover from the drop in weight.
“It took a while for me to feel right again after my move to featherweight,” discussed Bak. “For a couple of months, my weight kept on climbing up and then fell down drastically repeatedly. It’s been stable since then so for the past three months I’ve been working really hard and my body feels great.”
“I look back on my time at Cage Warriors with fond memories of great battles against top athletes,” continued Bak. “When I was there, I always tried to take on the hardest opponents I could get as that makes for the best fights. I’ve competed on Englishmen’s home turf and also on the big stage in my own country. None of it came easy and that’s how I like it. As a promotion, Cage Warriors do everything properly. You are flown in with good time to cut weight, their platform is well established and I’ve had no bad experiences with referees or judges even when fighting hometown favourites.”
In his Bellator debut, Bak will face Terry Brazier (11-2) at the sixth installment of the promotion’s European Series on Saturday 23rd November. This bout is a bit of a throwback as it represents a clash between a pair of two-weight champions from Cage Warriors and BAMMA respectively, who were among the biggest promotions in Europe for a while. Brazier is an ex-paratrooper so won’t be in any way intimated by the incoming invasion and will be looking to take the big step up onto the international stage. The Englishman holds victories over Alex Lohore and Rhys McKee so was one of the biggest names to originally be signed to Bellator when they first began their major venture into the market. Bak isn’t underestimating his opponent but doesn’t think that Brazier has ever faced someone on his level.
“Brazier is a great opponent with a solid record and is an established guy in Bellator,” stated Bak. “I’m expecting him to come out hungry to defend his place in the promotion. However, he just hasn’t faced the kind of pressure I bring to the table. Making a prediction is difficult as I won’t know certain things about Brazier until I’m throwing elbows in his face. Some guys look for a way out from that pressure so they give me the submission but others can take the hits all day - either way I will win. There will be blood and Brazier will want a long vacation after this scrap!”
Bak will prepare for this fight out of CSA gym as usual where he works with fighters such as Roger Huerta to develop his game. He still has a full time job as a pensions adviser but his employers allow him to work part-time around fights and he is grateful for this flexibility. Bak knows that the risks in MMA are high which is why he doesn’t want to be a full-time competitor. The increase in pay he has received from Bellator helps somewhat to alleviate those risks and another benefit of signing with the promotion is the rumoured, upcoming expansion into Scandinavia next year. Bak is really excited by that prospect and believes fans in the region would definitely support the move while watching him on the next chapter in his career.
“As of right now, I’m aiming to climb the ladder and rankings as quickly as possible,” explained Bak. “I work with long-term goals and that’s fitting since my contract is for multiple fights. When I’ve solidified my place in the Bellator division, I see no reason not to go for yet another belt!”