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ONE FC: Ole Laursen on returning to his roots to set up an MMA camp in Boracay

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If Rocky IV taught us one thing, it is that the secret to success in combat sport is to train in a cold and inhospitable environment where you can spend all your time chopping down trees and pulling peasants cars out of ditches instead of, say, sparring.

One person who obviously doesn't subscribe to this theory is Ole Laursen. He was born in Manila, grew up in Denmark and has spent the last few years living and training in North East Thailand but recently returned to the Philippines to set up a camp in Boracay.

It is a small island which is home to some of the best beaches in the world and is popular with Filipino tourists but has yet to be inundated with overseas visitors. Laursen trained here for his last two fights, including the famous win over Eduard Folayang, in a recently constructed cage which is situated just a stones throw away from Diniwid Beach.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is extremely popular in the Philippines and everywhere you go you will see people wearing caps and t shirts with familiar brands on them. However Laursen's Legacy Gym is the first camp set up to cater to martial arts tourists and should be finished in a few months time.

"We should be up and running by July with one octagon and one boxing ring plus a training area with weights and bags. By the end of August there will be a total of two boxing rings and two full size cages, a bag area, full weights area. Housing will be done end year but til then people can stay at one of the many resorts nearby."

Folayang is renowned for his stamina and as well as a legendary work ethic he also has the advantage of training at altitude. Many people were surprised that Laursen was able to match him for the full 15 minutes of their fight at ONE FC 'War of the Lions' but he says he worked just as hard on the beaches in Boracay as his opponent did in the mountains of Baguio.

"It was a really good camp, I had Vaughn "Blud" Anderson who came and helped me out when I needed it most and pushed me hard during training and I had Kristoffer Persson who just defeated BJJ black belt Alexandre "Leke" Machado but unfortunately he got injured in that fight and were not able to help me during the last two weeks in training."

Having returned to the Philippines Laursen, who was once offered a spot on the national boxing team, is looking to fulfill the ambition of a lifetime by fighting there. ONE FC currently has a card scheduled for Manila on September 1st and he would love to be a part of it.

"I hope to fight for ONE FC Manila because it would be my first MMA fight in the motherland. MMA is very popular here and I think the Philippines could be one of biggest supporting countries in the world when it comes to MMA, Kids in the streets know and follow the UFC events and love it. It's live on TV for free so everyone knows what MMA is all about."

The Philippines is well ahead of many countries in Asia when it comes to televised MMA. The UFC has been available live on the Balls channel for a long time, while URCC repeats seem to be shown on constant rotation on Solar Sports and ONE FC is now being broadcast by both Star Sports and ESPN.

Laursen believes this has been a key factor behind the rapid growth of the sport in the Philippines.

"Having so much MMA on TV has definitely helped a lot. It has has made MMA mainstream in the Philippines and accepted and recognised as a serious respected combat sport and way of life."

Recognition is something which Laursen himself has come to enjoy this year after firmly establishing himself as one of the stars of Asia's biggest MMA promotion. He came up short against Felipe Enomoto in a fight which most expected him to win but bounced back spectacularly to overcome Folayang in front of 8,000 fans in the fight of the night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last month.

Cage-at-night

Laursen has won six out of his last seven fights and could be forgiven for taking some time off, particularly as he is currently living in a tropical paradise. Despite having competed in K-1 and Muay Thai for almost 15 years he still has plenty of motivation and is already back in training.

"I had two weeks of rest but now with Alex Niu here I am training hard again to be the best training partner possible for him. I'm helping him get ready for his upcoming K-1 style fight in china in three weeks time plus there are a handful of locals and few tourists training, I hope when my local talent is ready some of them will get in the URCC it's what they all strive and dream for."

As a fighter Laursen is an all out warrior who leaves it all in the cage and his style has won him a lot of fans including, interestingly enough, Phil Baroni. His fights are never dull and he tends to take his fair share of punishment but when not doing battle for the benefit of thousands he has an enviable day job.

"The gym is five minutes walk from the beach, located up on a hilltop overlooking the ocean so we always have a nice breeze and view. We train on the beach every morning, water sprints, sprints on the beach, gymnastics, working the sledge hammer and medicine ball drills. We do most of these drills and exercizes on the beach in the mornings."

For more information visit: www.legacygymphilippines.com or join the Facebook group.

www.twitter.com/jamesgoyder

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