Fight Night View: Niklas Bäckström at Cage 37.

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I had the privilege to follow one of Europe’s top featherweight fighters, UFC-veteran Niklas Bäckström during his fight night this past Saturday at Cage 37 where he defeated Joni Salovaara via unanimous decision. The uncrowned King of the North was calm and relaxed as he prepared for his thirteenth professional MMA bout.

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As I met Niklas and Sasha in the locker rooms, they were nearly asleep. Watching videos on YouTube, I guess fight night means a lot of waiting for the fighters and their coaches.

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Niklas was all smiles after getting the green light to fight from the doctors.
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Straight Outta Norrland. “I ain’t flexing”.

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“Worst thing about fights is the waiting before the fight, you just wait wait wait and you get so bored. I’d just like to go in there and fight”, said Niklas with an hour to go before his fight.

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Niklas zoned in and focused right around the co-main event started, you could get no reaction from him. Complete 180 degrees from the person who was dancing to salsa just 30 minutes before.

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Niklas was forced to use his grappling skills in the fight, he actually broke his hand on the first punch of the whole fight.

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The hand that broke. What a bittersweet victory for Niklas, who had a title fight booked in just three weeks.
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I want to say that I have huge respect towards Christer Lybäck. Five minutes after checking on Niklas he called to a doctor in Stockholm and gave the phone to Niklas.

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“First things first, tervetuloa”.

I’ve been photographing MMA for the past four years now and I have to say that this was truly eye opening to follow through a fighter for this small glimpse of time called “Fight Night”. It takes years of hard work to not be phased by other fighters who come in storming to the preparation area after their fights, either yelling out of frustration because they were defeated or yelling out of pure joy because they just won their fight. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of emotions flying around and it’s crucial for the fighters to stay focused on the task at hand. I wish all the best to Niklas Backström and I hope his hand heals up nice and quick.