Brew yourself a fresh cup of coffee sit back and relax to this exclusive interview.
This is the first part of a three series interview with our friend and the talented Simon Sköld. Simon has together with us at Lecharl watches designed our latest model The Gentleman. In this section of the interview, Simon is talking about his MMA career! The video is in Swedish and the English version + photos you find below.
Who is Simon Sköld?
Father, professional MMA fighter, entrepreneur, writer and public speaker are some of the things that occupy my time…and as a person, I´m always trying to push for new things and constantly challenge myself.
The creative process inspires me and I really like to follow projects from the very beginning and all the way through to the end result.
Lecharl: You mentioned amongst these things that you are a professional MMA fighter. Could you tell us a bit more about this?
Simon:Absolutely…! I did my professional debut at Superior Challenge in Stockholm 2010 where I went up against Niklas Bäckström, but unfortunately, I lost the match in round 3. However, this was actually what inspired me and really pushed me into the realisation that this was something I really wanted to do. My goal is to grow as an MMA fighter and as a human being but I also realise that no matter how hard I push myself in training, I am never going to find complacency and feel like “now I know this and are fully trained and there is no more to learn”. And that, right there is the edge that drives me forward and to explore just how good I can be in a “game” where I already know that there is no end to the development. I will never be “fully trained”.
Lecharl:So, as you actually lost your first two pro-fights, how do you mentally bounce back and how do you regain self-confidence in such a situation?
Simon: Well I´m not going to pretend it wasn´t a tough time, losing my first two pro fights, and it surely affects the mindset, but I was already determined to push on and not give up. So…my third match in Gothenburg I went up against a Norwegian fighter which I knew had trained a lot of Thai boxing, so I did not want to exchange too many punches with this guy. I launched an attack almost immediately, got a clean hit and followed him down, continued to follow up with punches for what seemed to me like several minutes, but the referee was quite quick in breaking up the fight and declared me the winner. 96 seconds…but it sure felt like a whole lot longer.
…and with that - my “curse” so to say was lifted.
It was, of course, a good feeling and also a solid confirmation that I could perform well during a real pro-fight-situation.
Because just that was one of my concerns and actual problems as I always performed well during training but had a hard time reaching the same level when I went up in a match.
This led me into training my mind in order to really focus on the problem - and I got trained in this topic by Martin Lidberg who is a world champion wrestler. We worked hard on visualization as a form of mentally focused training, where the goal was to visualize every night how I on match day arrived at the arena, prepared everything, heard my name being called, entering the arena, starting the fight and so on… Every day I did this kind of visualization techniques, which I can assure you wasn´t easy in the beginning.
But now I´ve done this for so many years and so I have reached the point where I can handle my feelings, stay focused and mentally turn disadvantages in a match to my advantage.
Today I have 7 wins and 5 losses - and I have won the last five fights in a row.
Lecharl: How much effort do you put in with training the mind nowadays?
Simon: Actually I try to put some effort into this every day in some way or other. For example, during training I can mentally focus on different tactics or just trying mentally to prepare for any kind of situation that may appear during an actual match.
Lecharl:What would you define as your strengths as an MMA fighter - and what are the things you are proudest of?
Simon:As I see it I have two strengths and number one is that I´m really an all rounder as a fighter. My history lies in traditional standing techniques - punches and kicks - so to begin with I was not so familiar with the techniques on the ground. Today, however, I am confident in both techniques making me an allround fighter. This versatility means I can meet different fighters with different techniques and still feel confident, whether they are good wrestlers or maybe better in standing techniques.
Number two is my accurate judging of distances, meaning that I´m pretty good at determining if my opponent is close enough to hit me or not. This is good for judging the “safe distance” and has really been a useful skill to have.
Lecharl:Now you’ve been a professional MMA fighter for seven years...tell us your finest moment through these years.
Simon: I will actually stick with that first victory since I came from two losses which was really tough mentally. Pushing through this and win was for sure my finest moment and memory of my career so far.
Lecharl: Looking ahead - what is your goal in MMA and how many years are you going to continue?
Simon:This is a tough question because you can actually never be sure of how many years you can go on. I use to say that a career like this is actually only one injury away from ending. 3-5 years may be realistic if I can keep myself from such injuries. The goal is to be able to enter into one of the large organizations like UFC or Bellator, and there really be able to put everything to the test.
Lecharl:Your signature/nickname is “The gentleman” - but can you tell us a bit about the background for that?
Simon: I actually think it is a truly important part of the sport - to be a gentleman. For sure there are punches, kicks, blood, and risk of injuries that goes with the game, but there is also a humble attitude when winning, respect and sportsmanship that needs to be there and needs to be understood. If I win, I need to recognize that there is someone who has lost and be humble and respectful towards this fact - because I know myself exactly how that feels.
This attitude is something that works very well in everyday life too, like wishing a stranger a good day, helping people you can help…which of course also is very nice.
Lecharl: How did it all begin? When did you first start with martial arts?
Simon:I have always been interested, and when I was fourteen I saw this poster for a beginners karate class. I went home to my parents and told them I wanted to sign up. Sure, they said, but you need to fulfill at least one season, however, how hard or boring it may be. As it turned out, I had absolutely no problem with that first season and got quite obsessed actually. When I was fifteen I made the national team and went on competing in European and also world championships. My best international achievement was a bronze medal in the world championships, but as I continued competing I realized that no matter how hard I trained I couldn't reach those at the top.
The joy of it went away for me until I tried MMA and got totally and wholeheartedly stuck. I´ve always been a quick learner and when I have learned stuff I want to compete.
It´s as simple as that.
Next Saturday the second part of the series drops, and in that episode, we are getting more personal in our questions.
Have a great weekend everyone!
// Kristoffer, Founder of Lecharl Watches
Interview text by subevent.se