The wait is over for Edmonton, Alta.’s Christian Larsen (5-2) as he finally gets the opportunity to defend his Unified MMA heavyweight title in the co-main event of Unified MMA 41 against Grayson Wells (5-3) live on UFC Fight Pass on Friday night at the River Cree Resort and Casino.
Standing 6’4″ and weighing 260 pounds, plus having champions and UFC fighters at his disposal for years, has developed Larsen, 34, into one of Canada’s most deadly knockout threats.
With all but one of his fights ending in the first round, he’s always a threat to end the show early.
“For me, the big thing being in the cage is maintaining my composure. The fights where I’m kind of anxious and swinging the haymakers compared to when I’m relaxed makes a big difference,” Larsen said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“That’s kind of what I’m working with, keeping the adrenaline down and fighting a lot smarter because the difference between how I fight in the cage and when I’m training is night and day. I’m trying to find a happy balance where I’m still using the technical striking that I have but also trying to take someone’s head off.”
Although it will be the first time back in the Unified cage in some time for Larsen, it was just three short months ago he took to the road to try and become a double champ when he challenged for rising star Caio Machado for his BFL heavyweight title.
He may have come out on the losing end, but he said it was a great learning experience for when it comes to preparation.
“For me, it was mostly a timing thing. When I first took the fight I hadn’t been training because of COVID, so I was up at 320 pounds. Gyms were shut down and I was stuck in a camp for work,” Larsen said.
“I felt okay, but I was overconfident. I thought I could come in after a year and a bit not being on the mat and perform at the same level and that’s just not realistic. I cut 53 pounds in five weeks and I had a three-week training camp. I can’t get away with doing that. And not to take anything away from Machado, because he executed his game plan and caught me with a clean left, he did his job, I was just unimpressed with my performance and I think that came with not preparing properly for a fight at this level.”
This time around, preparations are going much differently for the Shaved Bears product. The success of the team based out of Sherwood Park has helped Larsen grow into the championship fighter that he is.
“It’s good, pretty much the whole team is back training together now. I’m in a lot better condition now getting the second fight camp since COVID,” Larsen said.
“I’ve always had the confidence from my team since day one. We’re getting the recognition that we deserve now but even when we were just starting, before anyone had really made waves, it was a room full of killers. And I don’t think there is anywhere in Canada where they can replicate the training environment, and that’s always given me confidence.”
There is plenty of mutual respect between Larsen and his challenger. They’ve been on each other’s radar for awhile and the matchup has finally come to fruition.
Of course, Larsen will be looking for a finish on the feet, but said he’s ready for wherever the fight might go. Larsen said he also has another tool up his sleeve that he’s yet to utilize in the cage.
“I like Grayson, I think he’s a game opponent. I have a lot of respect for him, he’s a good striker and he likes to mix it up, but he also doesn’t mind getting in there and slugging it out,” Larsen said.
“I haven’t shown much in the cage because my fights haven’t really gone that way, but my background is wrestling. I don’t expect it but if he wants to try and take me down, go ahead. It should be an exciting fight for sure. There’s been a few times we had a fight scheduled with Unified and I think even a year or two before that he was asking for me. He’s been trying to make this fight happen for awhile and, of course, I’m happy to go along with it.”
After teammate Graham Park’s win at Unified MMA 40, Larsen will look to make it a second straight Unified card with a Shaved Bears title defence.
There’s no telling exactly what the future holds for one of Canada’s top heavyweight prospects, but it all starts with a heavyweight championship showdown this weekend live on UFC Fight Pass.
“You’re not the champ until you defend your belt, and we have a bit of a legacy going on here at Shaved Bears,” Larsen said.
“Tanner had the belt and I have it now. We’re going to keep it in the gym for as long as we can. He left Unified as the champ and I plan on doing the same thing.”
“All my coaches and training partners at Shaved Bears. Mishaps Garage and Three Monkeys Tattoo.” Follow Larsen on social media: INSTAGRAM