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HammerFall’s Oscar Dronjak Weighs In on the MMA Scene

Nuclear Blast

Noisecreep reported on HammerFall‘s Anders Johansson and Oscar Dronjak (seen in the above photo with MMA fighter Josh “The Pitbull” Souder) dropping in on MMA fighter Bas Rutten’s gym while on tour last year. We recently caught up with Dronjak to see what he thought about current MMA topics, as well as what he finds so appealing about training and the industry in general.

Noisecreep: What did you think of the draw between Penn and Fitch at the match in Australia?

Oscar Dronjak: I thought it was annoying, because I wanted BJ [Penn] to win. I think he’s great and a lot of fun to watch, but in retrospect, it was the only fair result after that fight. BJ won the first two rounds 10-9, Fitch the third 10-8.fHammerFall

There’s talk of Penn going up against Georges St. Pierre again. Is that something you’d like to see or would you want Penn to rematch Fitch?

I wouldn’t want either at this point, actually. None of them can lay claim to the number one contender spot, and a rematch is not very attractive right now. If one of them would have beaten the other decisively in Australia, it would be very hard to deny them a rematch, but as it stands right now, it’s up in the air. Besides, we shouldn’t forget that Jake Shields is challenging GSP at UFC 130, so this whole debate might be moot after that.

I can see the attraction between metal fans and musicians and things like classic cars and hot rods, or firearms and extreme sports. What draws you specifically to MMA?

What really stands out for me, from a broad perspective, is that the fight can end at any given moment. In most other sports, one desperate move will not alter the end result, but in MMA you can be dominated for 95% of the fight (see Anderson Silva v. Chael Sonnen, or the more recent Marloes Coenen v. Liz Carmouche, for example) and still come out victorious with a submission or KO. You just never know what’s going to happen, and I love the unpredictability! Add to that the excitement of to people trying to beat the shit out of each other in front of an audience, and you’ve got a little bit of Roman gladiator-ing going on. Who doesn’t like that?

I heard that you actually do some MMA-style training. I’m into resistance training and proper nutrition myself — how would you sell MMA training to someone like me? How is it different from other forms of getting in shape?

Well, the only MMA training I ever did was at Bas Rutten’s Elite MMA Gym in California. Our drummer Anders and I attended a session there for a Fight! Magazine piece.

I am a tae kwon-do red belt, although that is a completely different form of martial arts. The devotion, dedication, and mental strength required to compete in MMA is ridiculous. I have nothing but respect for anyone who steps into the cage/ring. The skills needed to excel are unbelievable! You need to master some things and be good-to-great at so many other things; it takes a special type of athlete and mindset to choose this as your thing. If you have a muay-thai background, you need to develop some take-down defense and submission ground game. If you are a wrestler, you need to work on your striking as well as working off your back. If you primarily are a BJJ grappler, you also need to work on the stand-up part and ground-and-pound. If you are good in only one area, you won’t get far in this business and [none] of these skills are easy to learn.

To be good or great at them takes years and years of practice. The great thing about this is you don’t have to compete to enjoy training MMA; you can just learn the basics of self-defense and focus on that if you like. There is so much to do and learn that the training becomes very varied.

Would you ever consider joining a league? What do you think the rest of HammerFall would think?

Since I don’t actually train MMA, this will never become an issue. But it would be impossible for someone like me to actually compete in a sport like this unless I took some time off from the band. You can’t be gone touring (and drinking) for a month here and a month there and expect to be in shape for a fight; it just doesn’t work like that. I’m getting to the level in tae kwon-do now [where] it becomes harder and harder to start up again after I’ve been away for some time. It would be impossible if I was trying to compete in MMA.

Any other match predictions or fighters to keep an eye on?

We have an MMA organization here in Sweden called The Zone. I go to their events regularly (UFC doesn’t come here yet, although there is talk of a November card). They feature some really good fighters, and so far, one has made it to the UFC: Alexander Gustafsson. He’s starting to make a name for himself over there, but there are more fighters coming out of Sweden, be sure about that!

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