- What’s your morning routine?
I wake up by taking my dogs out for a walk, if my girlfriend hasn’t beaten me to it. I have a light breakfast after which I begin the day’s practice around 10 am. Every now and then, I like to go for a 45-minute jog. After training for a couple of hours, I go straight to lunch.
- When did you know that you wanted to become a mixed martial artist?
Probably last year. I mean I’ve always liked martial arts, but the thought of myself as the top athlete in the game just recently awakened in me. This used to be a hobby to me, with which I earned a living. Now I know that without success in sports and mixed martial arts I won’t feel enough joy in my life.
- You have an impressive record from amateur wrestling to Ultimate Fighting Championship. What would you say is your best asset as a competitor?
I’d say all of the setbacks I’ve been through in life. They’ve moulded me into a cool-headed guy who can cope with pressure as if it’s not even there. It has helped me enjoy what I do. Performing for people has always been my kind of thing. My secret is that I can manage my mind and thoughts very well.
- What is the most memorable moment in your career so far?
It must be my UFC debut which lasted a mere seven seconds before I was announced the winner. It was also the first technical knockout of my career. There was a football stadium full of people and I managed to execute a perfect performance.
- What is the biggest mistake you’ve learnt from during your career?
I became too satisfied with my life and achievements. As they say in Finland, progress ends with complacency. Now I’ve realised that with hard work I can achieve a lot more.
- How would you describe the Finnish martial arts scene?
The Finnish mixed martial arts (MMA) scene is filled with new and hungry youngsters with high ambitions. In Finland, MMA has grown immensely and I believe that in the future it will grow even bigger. We’ll be seeing more Mr. Finlands out there in the future.
- How do you prepare yourself before important fights?
By living like an athlete, eating and sleeping right and working with just one moment in my mind. The thought of the next match is in my head until it arrives. It feels like a song if you’re well prepared. Two practices a day and a couple of hard rounds with seasoned fighters will grow your self-esteem and give you a sense of your condition. I like spending the final week before a match with my loved ones and enjoying the whole show with them.
- Whom do you admire?
Muhammad Ali for sure, due to his great off-the-ring deeds. He has always been a boxer I enjoy – let the other guy tire out by missing and punish him when he’s drained. My kind of style, definitely.
- What are your other interests away from the ring?
Right now, I’m busy building a new business called Green Fellas, which is a salad bar chain. The more heartfelt interests include my family and gym of course, as well as a baby boy or girl in the future, whom I could train. I’d also like to share the lessons I’ve learnt during my career.
- What is your number one tip for someone who would like to try combat sports?
Start off simple, put in the work and be patient.