First off, let me introduce myself: my name is Oscar Dronjak, and I play guitar in the Swedish heavy metal band HammerFall. But that's not what this blog is going to be about. I've been asked to write a weekly column on my number one favorite passions outside of music: MMA in general and the UFC in particular. That's Mixed Martial Arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship for those not in the know, and here's how it all began for me. In the beginning of the ‘90s, I became a super huge fan of pro wrestling. Through an insatiable thirst for knowledge about that, I came across newsletters that talked about what went on behind-the- scenes at the wrestling events. They sometimes also featured articles on this relatively new thing called the UFC. Intrigued by this young phenomenon and the projected realism (coming from a pro wrestling environment, there was some initial skepticism as to whether this was real or not), I believe the first UFC event I watched was Ultimate Ultimate 1996 [for the fight card, click here].
That was all it took; I was instantly hooked to the beautiful combination of violence and technique. But following wrestling and MMA while living in Sweden was almost impossible. It certainly wasn't on any of the television channels, so the only way to get it was through tape trading with people from abroad. This, kids, was how things were done before the internet came around. ("What, Internet hasn't always been around?! Impossible!"). There were people - tape traders - who collected all sorts of stuff and put together a list of what they had in their collection. You could either buy what you wanted, or, if you had anything good enough to trade with, swap it for your desired product. This way of doing things was also a part of the metal underground for many, many years.
Now, since it was all done on VHS cassettes, the quality sometimes left quite a bit to desire. Again, very similar to the metal underground. But the production didn't matter, it was the substance that was important. This was violence in its purest form, and something I had never encountered before. I was mesmerized. Keep in mind that pro boxing (which I never cared much for except when Mike Tyson was fighting) had not been allowed to be promoted in Sweden for decades. It was considered too brutal for people to watch (the censors in our country were legendary for editing out violence from movies before they were released here), so you can imagine what people were saying about MMA.
Fast forward to Sweden today. The numbered P-P-Vs [pay-per-views] and the TUF [The Ultimate Fighter] series are available on basic cable (I believe MMA on television started with the IFL a couple of years ago) here. In addition, we have MMA organizations putting on shows regularly, and I attend these as much as I can. We'll get into that eventually, I'm sure, as well as my UFC live experiences (three so far, but rest assured there's going to be more!), and the one MMA training session HammerFall drummer Anders and I had at Bas Rutten's Elite MMA gym in Thousand Oaks, California last year. I’ll also talk about what's going on in the constantly growing MMA world, as this indeed is the fastest growing sport in the world.
So until next week, let the hammer fall and let's get it on!
Anders Johansson and Oscar Dronjak training at Bas Rutten’s Elite MMA in Thousand Oaks, California.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 1 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 2 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 3 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 4 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 5 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 6 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 7 by clicking here.
** HammerFall's new album, Infected, is out June 7th, 2011 on Nuclear Blast Records.