By Erik Uebelacker
Norwegian featherweight Cecilie Bolander booked her place in the women’s featherweight final when she impressively won her semi-final bout against Khazakstan’s Zhansaya Yermagambetova.
Bolander’s first round armbar secured a spot in the final against reigning champion Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa.
“I was very pleased with that one,” Bolander told IMMAF.org after her win.
“I think it’s probably, mentally, my best fight. Just because I was super pressing and I was just in the moment, just feeling it, taking it all in. It was just a lot of fun.”
Bolander is used to winning on the big stage, having captured featherweight gold in the 2021 IMMAF World Cup. And she says she couldn’t be happier with how her tournament has progressed so far, especially considering she gets to face De Sousa in the finals.
“I’m pleased with everything,” she said.
“I’m super-happy that I got to the final, because of the person that I’m going to meet in the final.
“I really want to fight her because everyone is hyping her up and I just want to see if she’s as good as the hype.”
Bolander paid her respects to De Sousa, who is considered one of the biggest rising stars in this year’s Championships. But the Norwegian contender’s confidence remains high heading into the finals.
“I’m very excited about the fight,” she said.
“I just really want to test my limits, and I feel like she’s a good opponent because she’s good all around, I just know that she’s been hyped a lot. I think we are even.”
Bolander is the lone Norwegian fighter remaining in the tournament, and has already guaranteed her nation a medal for progressing to the finals.
“Representing my country is always an honour and it’s important,” she said.
“(Norwegians) always feel like an underdog. It’s not a big nation when it comes to sports other than, like, skiing. The support around me is incredible, it’s crazy. I’m just super-honoured.”
De Sousa and Bolander will square off in their featherweight final match on Saturday. Whatever the result, Bolander says she is pleased for the additional learning experience.
“At this stage I’m just happy with whatever happens, basically,” she said.
“I feel like I just want to figure myself out as a fighter. I still have so much to learn and the place you learn the most is in the cage.
“This is my life. This is who I am, so just trying to figure out how good I can be as a person, as a fighter.”