The Ice Viking Cometh
A lover of red wine and steak, a believer in Vikings and Smurfs and a self confessed ‘ass kicker’, Arni Isaksson is not your average fighter. His thoughts are random but his fighting is not.
He steps into the cage on Thursday night (September 8th) at the New Boxing Arena in King Hussein Youth City, Amman, Jordan to contest the Welterweight title in a bout promised to him some years ago but injury put that on the back burner. For Isaksson, the time is now. The Icelandic striker Arni “The Ice Viking” Isaksson (11-3-0) will do battle with the French grappler Gael Grimaud (13-5-0) over 5 x 5 minute rounds in the main event of the evening.
The excitement in Jordan for CWFC Fight Night 2 is palpable, the anticipation surrounding this bout immense, Ian Dean, Cage Warriors matchmaker explains why. “Both fighters have good records, both have previously fought internationally against good names on big shows and have both held titles and won tournaments elsewhere. They both come from different bases; Arni is originally a stand-up fighter, whereas Gael is a submission guy (11 career sub wins) but I believe them both to be well rounded, more so in the case of Arni”.
Dean continues, “Arni also won an eight man tournament at a Cage Warriors show many years ago (2006) and was promised a title shot but it never happened for various reasons. Plus Arni is difficult to match up because of his reputation and Gael stepped up without question that shows the Frenchman has a real desire. Plus both guys go into this fight in form and with their contrasting skill sets I think makes the fight interesting”.
So with the punditry dispensed we caught up with Arni before he boarded his flight to Jordan to try and find out what makes the Ice Viking tick.
During my dialogue with Arni I made a couple of snap judgements and the first is that he is like his fellow countrywoman Bjork, a maverick, gifted, imaginative and most definitely a little quirky. Secondly, that he needs the love of a good woman. He tells me that he enjoys nothing more than to unwind after a fight with a vodka cranberry with a gaggle of girls he can chat to and make giggle. I also know that if he could hone any skill or quality it would be to be more like ‘Californication’s’ Hank Moody. Note to Arni* I think this might be where you’re going wrong with the ladies.
Judgements aside, he also has triumphed over adversity - fact. Every athlete’s nightmare is to be told by your doctor that an injury will stop you doing what you love, that you’ll never compete again. This is what happened to Arni when he damaged his knee some years ago, “When the doctor told me I could not compete again I was very sad but was determined that I would fight again”.
He continues, “I got my tattoo meaning Jiu Jitsu because I wanted to compete again. With my knee and leg recovering I practised everyday and when I would feel sorry for myself I would look at my tattoos and they spurred me on to train even harder”.
Perfecting his game is second nature to Arni, this desire is what led him to MMA and eventually Dublin, “I watched a lot of fight films and began to practice kickboxing…Muay Thai and Kung Fu shit. But then I saw the UFC and I said to myself, I’m going to do this.” It was shortly after, that he met his coach, “I met John Kavanagh at one of his seminars in Iceland where he was teaching Jiu Jitsu and MMA. I asked him if he could teach standup, he said he could and several days after the seminar I went to Ireland to train with John”.
This striving for perfection is really what makes Arni tick, he reflects on his last fight, his third win in a row, “The last fight was ok, I was happy with my Jiu Jitsu but not with my ground and pound. For this fight I’ve worked on all aspects and put everything together in one soup. I feel good and I’m ready to fight”.
He is complimentary of his opponent Gael Grimaud, “ He has good Muay Thai, ok Jiu Jitsu and a strong mind”.
You could say that Arni’s on a promise, a promise to contest the CWFC Welterweight title, which was made to him in 2006. On fighting on this Thursday’s show he comments, “ It gladdens my heart a lot to fight for Cage Warriors. They’re great people to work with and Ian Dean matches great fights that people want to see”.
I had one final question for Arni; I asked him if he had a most treasured possession. Stupidly, in light of his injury I thought he might say something clichéd like his health. Instead he quipped, “Yes the people in my cellar that I’m training to be combat forces”.
Yes his thoughts are a little random but his fighting is exsplendid!
Article by Sue Finnegan
Catch the fight tonight from 7pm UK Time LIVE on www.cagewarriorslive.com and on Premier Sports TV (Sky Ch 433)
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