Sebastian Herzberg fights Mamadou Lamine Sene

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Home match for Sebastian Herzberg: Heavyweight champion from Hanover defends the MMA title

Hannover.Under Sebastian Herzberg’s (36) skin-tight sports leggings and the no less tight shirt, there are muscles that are so thick that they literally catch your eye. But these almost scary Muckis have strong competition, because they have to share the attention with the fun yellow-pink patterned socks, which do not really fit the almost 1.89 meters and 107 kilos heavy giant.

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At least visually. Because when you talk to a mixed martial arts fighter, you quickly realize that it fits together. Because sport is Herzberg’s life, his MMA fights live from his strength – but with all that performance and strength, he does not take himself too seriously. His nickname is “Mettbrötchen” because he likes to eat Mettbrötchen. And: “I have no social media, only village talk,” he says – and laughs. Standing out is not his thing. “I would have preferred if we had not taken some pictures of me today,” he says shortly before his training at Hannover Fight School on Vahrenwalder Strasse.

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Sebastian Herzberg defends his title

On Saturday, he will defend his heavyweight belt at the fight night in Swiss Life Hall. The place where he won the national title against Karl Nickel from Minden two years ago. “We love MMA” is one of the two largest MMA organizers in Germany. Herzberg could hardly achieve greater success in Germany.

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March 2020: Sebastian Herzberg (right) defeats Karl Nickel from Minden in the heavyweight division.

And yet he remains relaxed. “I was happy one night then – and the next day it was completely normal,” he says, shrugging. “And it will be the same this time. I can not buy anything from the victory. First of all, I look forward to having fun with the training again,” he adds. He is currently practicing before and after work.

Preparing for the big match: Sebastian Herzberg (left) currently trains twice a day.

Preparing for the big match: Sebastian Herzberg (left) currently trains twice a day.

He does it voluntarily for the sporting challenge that was missing for two years with the pandemic. Herzberg is an athlete throughout. He runs the training center Heyers Sports in Bemerode. Before joining MMA, he played volleyball and has been lifting weights since he was 14 years old. “Even as a teenager, I eventually set myself the goal of weighing 100 kilos.”

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Sebastian Herzberg

* August 12, 1985 in Dessau. Herzberg often moved in his childhood and youth, in 2002 he came to Hanover. He lives in Wülferode and runs his own gym with Heyers Sports in Bemerode. Herzberg coaches in Fightschool Hannover on Vahrenwalder Straße, in 2018 he had his first professional match, in 2020 his last, then came the Corona break. So far, he has fought professionally three times and is undefeated. In 2020, he became heavyweight champion against Karl Nickel from Minden.

But not because he imitated any role models. “Pff, I have no role models. I do not even watch the UFC, “he says of the American organization, which is now also popular with German viewers. “Why should I get up at night to see others fighting? I only fight for myself.”

That’s how Sebastian Herzberg came to MMA

He also did not notice much that the popularity of mixed martial arts in Germany was increasing. “I do not practice the sport because of any tendency,” said people from Dessau, who have lived in Hanover since 2002. “Ten years ago, I wanted to practice a new full-body sport. Triathlon was too time-consuming for me and boxing too boring.” So it became MMA. “Because it combines all martial arts, it’s not just about beatings like boxing and technique, psychology and physics are much more important.”

MMA is coming back to Hanover

MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. The fighters combine boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, karate – and much more. They fight in a cage called an octagon.

In Germany, it took time for the sport to gain popularity. In Europe in particular, Irish fighter Conor McGregor made the sport popular in the media. Critics condemn the brutality of the struggle. Others believe that MMA will overtake boxing in terms of popularity.

The last big MMA fight was in Hanover in 2020. With the German MMA championship, “We love MMA” is one of the biggest MMA organizers in Germany, and this time the organization is again responsible for the event. In 2020, when Sebastian Herzberg won the heavyweight division, 3,000 fans came to Swiss Life Hall.

This time too, the Hanoverians get local power: In addition to the defending champion Herzberg, Gian Franco Schulz (against Hakan Bozkurt from Stadthagen) and the lightweight Andrei Zugrav (against Sören Dubielzig from Braunschweig) from Fight School Hannover. It’s first a proffight for Dubielzig.

Tickets are still available online at www.welovemma.de, prices start at 20 euros. Minimum age of entry: 18 years.

And there are fewer injuries. “A lot of people think MMA is so brutal. I’ve never hurt myself.” Only his left ear is now a bit broken. “If it continues, my headphones will not fit anymore,” he says, laughing. But he can live with that: “My face still looks normal.”

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Hopefully also after the match on Saturday against the Senegalese French Mamadou Lamine Sene (33). Herzberg does not know much about him: “In a fight, things always go differently anyway.” The opponent has so far recorded three wins and three defeats in professional MMA fights. Herzberg’s record so far is impeccable: three matches, three victories.

By Josina Kelz

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