FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Rumford, Maine (August 3, 2017) – New Mike Hansen’s dreams of becoming a mixed martial arts (MMA) champion were admittedly premature. Then they were derailed for nearly a decade by a combination of injuries, service to his country and fatherhood.
The teenage ambition that made Hansen believe he could conquer the world, or at least his little corner of it, never went away, though.
Twenty-nine months after resurrecting his career with New England Fights, Rumford’s Hansen (5-5) finally gets that coveted title shot. He will battle hometown favorite C.J. Ewer (2-0) at “NEF 30: Rumble in Bangor” this Saturday, August 5 at Cross Insurance Center for the organization’s vacant middleweight title. The card starts at 7 p.m.
Hansen, who turned 32 on July 21, says the opportunity fulfills an early goal while living and fighting in Massachusetts back in 2005.
“I was 19 years old and thought I had a great head on my shoulders, so I called out the (World Fighting League) champion at the time, who was John “Doomsday” Howard,” Hansen said. “I said that I wanted that belt and that I was coming after him. Knowing what I know now, he probably would have whipped the (crap) out of me.”
Howard went on to compete at the highest level with Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and is now a veteran of 37 journeys into the cage. Hansen’s career path had many more stops, starts and detours.
He started with six amateur wins out of the gate and won his initial professional foray with ease. The title fight will take place on the eve of the 12th anniversary of that pro debut.
“Being 19 years old, I was kind of cocky. I remember telling my dad nobody could compete with my wrestling,” Hansen said. “Back then, MMA hadn’t really evolved. The wrestler had the advantage over the jiu-jitsu guy. You could just hold a guy down and snuggle and hug and sweat out a win.”
After his first knockout loss, Hansen promised his father he would quit the sport. But he had already caught the fever, and his confidence was sky high.
Hansen was training for a bout at Laconia, New Hampshire’s bike week when he suffered a broken ankle two weeks before the weigh-in. He recovered and was in training for another fight when he was stabbed and beaten with a baseball bat in what could have been a fatal case of mistaken identity.
He remarkably walked out of the hospital a day later and soon embarked on a more structured path as a combat engineer in the United States Army. While enlisted, Hansen suffered a serious shoulder injury. Even after retirement, a return to the MMA cage seemed unlikely.
Then came a fateful call from an old friend and neighbor, NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson, and the rest is history. Hansen has carved out a reputation as one who will take on any opponent in any weight class at any time, and perhaps there is no greater example than the Ewer matchup.
“The belts are vacant at 170, 185 and 205 (pounds). I can make weight for all those if I have enough time,” Hansen said. “I guess Peterson thought it made sense to kill two birds with one stone and put me in with Ewer at 185. Six weeks ago is when they called me, and at first they asked me about 170. I really liked the fight, but the weight didn’t make sense. I was sitting on the couch at 248.”
Hansen has spent most of his time in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. He was glaringly outweighed in his last bout, a February loss to Ras Hylton.
Only once previously has he downsized to the middleweight threshold, a February 2016 loss to Zach Elkins. In the case of Ewer, who has done most of his work at 170, meeting in the middle might play to Hansen’s advantage.
“We’re two different styles of fighters. He’s coming up in weight and I’m coming down,” Hansen said. “He’s never been in the cage against anybody with my kind of power. When I’m hitting somebody at 200 pounds, I’m hitting them with the force of somebody who’s 245. My opponents have told me they’ve never been hit harder by a guy my size. I feel like it’s my fight to lose, as long as I don’t make any mistakes and go in there with the stamina I need to have.”
Hansen is confident against Ewer, who had a 5-2 amateur record with notable wins over Ricky Dexter and Crowsneck Boutin before turning pro. He knows better, however, than to underestimate any fighter out of the Young’s MMA stable.
“I feel like I’m the more talented fighter and that I have more tools in my tool box. But I know Young’s MMA is a great camp and that he trains with a lot of great guys,” Hansen said. “Chris (Young) finds a way to set you up to fight the fight you need to win. Look at the Pat Kelly fight (against Rafael Velado). They prepared to turn that into a kickboxing fight, and then he went out and did just that.”
Hansen has seen his name rise into the New England top-five conversation. Most of the fighters ahead of him have experience with larger promotions.
He said a win over Ewer could inspire him to travel and continuing to pursue the dream. That’s consistent with the personality he has shown through this second act of his career.
“I’ve been fighting the top-level guys in NEF for about the past two-and-a-half years,” Hansen said, “I always told Peterson to set me up with a guy who’s in the top 10 or just above me. I wanted to work my way up.”
From his days as a high school state wrestling champion at Mountain Valley High School, Hansen flaunted a distaste for winning that served him well.
In those days, he wore a T-shirt that read, ‘Nobody remembers second place,’ with four gold medals beneath it. Hansen’s attitude remains, but the mainstay of Berserker’s MMA out of the Greater Rumford Community Center noted that it is never only about himself.
“I want to win the title for all the people who have supported me and trained with me in Rumford. I also want it for my gym. We’ve done this three times in the amateurs and now we’re going to do it with a pro,” he said. “(GRCC is) just a little on-profit that helps people pursue their dreams. I’d love to hang that belt on the wall. It shows people in the community what we’re capable of here, and hopefully it gets them interested and grows the gym. That’s my goal.”
Tickets for “NEF 30: Rumble in Bangor” are available at CrossInsuranceCenter.com. For more information on the fight card and event updates, please visit NewEnglandFights.com.
About New England Fights
New England Fights (“NEF”) is a fight events promotions company. NEF’s mission is to create the highest quality events for Maine’s fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.