Fort Lauderdale, FL — Throughout this PFL season, light heavyweight Marthin Hamlet has felt overlooked by the media and fans.
But having landed in the tournament final against UFC vet Antonio Carlos Junior, that has begun to change. And Hamlet (8-2) knows that winning the title can bring the sort of exposure that might finally push through the legalization of mixed martial arts in his native Norway.
“I feel I’m getting more attention, more respect about this final, but of course the most important thing is to get this victory,” Hamlet said during this week’s PFL 2021 World Championship media day. “After that, I will bring more and more attention here in the U.S., and especially in my country, Norway. That win can actually mean MMA gets legal there.”
Hamlet did his entire training camp at home— the Norwegian fighter simply can’t compete there. In the mid-2010s, Norway lifted its ban on professional boxing, which alongside MMA had been banned due to a law that forbid sports where a victory, or points, can be awarded due to a knockout. The first boxing event following legalization came in 2016, but MMA was left behind.
With his wrestling background, Hamlet has transitioned from a well-respected sport in his home country, to one that is essentially shunned. “I come from an Olympic sport that’s very respected over there. MMA, it’s a little like, people think it’s criminal, people that are doing this,” he explained. “But they have to see that, [politicians] have to see that we are actually top athletes. We do our nutrition good, we do even recovery good, we do our training good, we go all in to make good results.”
Hamlet believes mixed martial arts can help young people, not just in sport, but in life as well. And so he has a message to those who want to choose MMA as a career path in Norway. “I think it’s good to have structure in life, and the best sport to actually do that is in MMA. So you can learn wrestling, you can learn grappling, you can learn like all the aspects of the game. I believe how you respect other people, how we see the coaches, how we see the teammates, it’s very, very important for life.”
Winning the title, says Hamlet, will be the first step to legalization in Norway. “Probably this championship, and the next season with a good result will keep up the [push for legalizing] fighting. I believe that actually will be the first step to make it legal, and I believe I’m the man to do that.”
Watch the full PFL 2021 World Championship media day appearance from Marthin Hamlet above. More coverage can be found below. The event takes place this Wednesday, October 27, 2021, in Hollywood, FL.