FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lewiston, Maine (June 14, 2019)
Sixteen months of real time have passed since Jesse “The Viking” Erickson last entered the New England Fights cage in anything but a secondary role.
Erickson won by rear naked choke over Mike Hansen in a battle of NEF mainstays. Six subsequent cards, all within an hour or two of home, have gone on without his face on the fight poster.
Perhaps some fans assumed Erickson was retired. Others before him have shown a preference for going out on their own terms, after all, having notched one final win for the ledger.
Still a spry 32 years of age after a combined total of 22 professional and amateur bouts, Erickson politely proclaims that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I feel the best I’ve ever felt,” Erickson said. “I’m the strongest and most athletic I’ve ever been.”
Erickson (9-7) will have his chance to prove it when NEF makes its long-awaited return to his home base for “NEF 39: All American” at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. He’ll square off against New Hampshire’s Dylan Lockard (5-1) for the NEF Lightweight Championship.
First-round TKO losses to Jon Lemke and Adam Assenza preceded the victory over Hansen, but Erickson – known for his catch phrase, “Victory or Valhalla” – never considered calling it a career. Nor would such a proclamation fit his style, anyway.
“I’ll never use that word. I always think it’s a little cheesy when people announce that they’re going to ‘retire,’ because inevitably they come back in a year or two,” Erickson said. “So I’ll never officially retire, but I have plenty of people around who care about me outside the cage who will tell me when it’s time.”
So what made arguably NEF’s busiest fighter since day one – Erickson fought on the promotion’s first seven cards, plus a bout with Bellator, between February 2012 and May 2013 – take the first extended hiatus of his career?
Like any man making the transition from his 20s to his 30s, restructured priorities were the primary factor.
“I’m a full-time father,” said Erickson, whose son, Aidan, is now 5. “That’s my main job and how I spend most of my time. I have to do what’s right not just for me, but for my family and my students.
“I’ve been focused on my other athletes, training and coaching them,” he continued. “That improves my own skill set at the same time.”
Erickson said the time away, helping his students at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prepare for their forays into the hexagon, gave him valuable perspective.
“When you’re training for a fight, you’re just rolling around for yourself, concentrating on whatever it takes to win that fight,” Erickson said. “When you take some time off and train other people, that’s when you really improve, because you step back and really break down everything.”
Other fighters who drift away for an extended vacation might struggle to get back into the routine. Sometimes their diet or workout regimen gets put on the back burner.
In the case of Erickson, whose longest previous layoff was seven months, nothing changed in his daily approach.
“A lot of people when they take a year off, they get away from training completely, and it really sets them back,” Erickson said. “I’m in the gym all day, every day. You can ask my wife (Nicole). She’s the one who has to put up with it all.”
Still, Erickson hasn’t been shy about giving himself a jump-start as he prepares for a return to competition.
His last fight against the heavier Hansen was fought at the welterweight limit. This one’s back at his natural lightweight class of 155-pounds.
“I just started training at another gym in addition to CMBJJ, Recon, in Westbrook,” he said. “It’s been great. They’ve been a big help to me in every area of my game.”
During his extended stretch of passing along the fight game to others at his two gyms, Erickson hasn’t forgotten the one who follows his moves most closely. Young Aidan Erickson has already dabbled in jiu-jitsu.
“He’s starting to kind of understand everything,’ Erickson said of his son. “I’m definitely hoping to get him involved in more aspects of it. He’s seen some fights on video, and we’re talking about maybe taking him to a live show at some point.”
If the elder Erickson’s candid comments leading up to this fight are any indication, Aidan will have plenty of time to watch dad compete.
“NEF 39: ALL-AMERICAN,” will take place on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine with a bell time of 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.TheColisee.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 fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.