2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Hafthor Björnsson is learning to box as the bigger man. On Aug. 18, 2021, 2019 WSM champion Martins Licis shared a video on his YouTube channel sparring with “The Mountain” at the VBC MMA Sports Center in Kópavogur, Iceland. Although “sparring” may not be the best way to describe it.
Licis is not a boxer, but he assumed the role of a shorter fighter “working the inside” against Björnsson — meaning he stayed very close to Björnsson in the ring to unload body punches and strip “The Mountain” of his reach advantage. Björnsson’s coach gave Licis a quick masterclass on proper footwork to command the inside and guided Björnsson to combat it properly. Check it out:
Understanding how to fight as the bigger boxer is a valuable lesson for Björnsson as he stands six feet, nine inches tall. He will more often than not be taller than his opponent whenever he steps into the ring. That’s exactly the case in his upcoming bout against Devon “No Limits” Larratt on Sept. 18, 2021, in Dubai.
Larratt is four inches shorter than Björnsson and only has five weeks to prepare for the bout — he replaced Eddie Hall on short notice as Hall had to withdraw due to a biceps injury. Larratt’s competitive background is as a world-class arm wrestler. He has touted his confidence in his ability to throw a hook on his YouTube channel. However, he has also stated that he may have trouble fully extending his arm. That does not bode well when trying to throw a jab, meaning the game plan for Larratt is likely to be “working the inside” against the 2018 WSM.
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Licis has been in Iceland for more of an extended stay to train alongside his former strongman counterpart. They recently worked their cardio running outside on a track. Licis struggled as his current training regimen involves preparing for the 2021 Rogue Invitational at the end of October. Björnsson was steady for the entire 3.75-mile run.
Licis expressed how much fun he had, stepping into the ring for the first time. Before becoming a competitive strongman, Licis trained wrestling (sport, not pro) and jiu-jitsu. He expressed his interest in potentially competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) in the future.
I got wrestling and jiu-jitsu background, I don’t want to waste it.
The two strongman champions finished their sparring day with some additional heart-rate work on a pair of Echo bikes. Although Björnsson will have to wait until early to mid-2022 to get in the squared circle with Hall, he seems to be well prepared for his six-round fight against Larratt. We’ll see if the Canadian Arm Wrestler chooses to work the inside aggressively and if “The Mountain” can properly counter it.
Feature image: @martinslicis on Instagram