Saturday, January 16, 2010

Euro Prospects vol. 1

I decided to write a piece on up-n-coming European MMA fighters, so that Joe Silva knows who to sign to the UFC. No, really Joe, you need to get these guys.
Seriously, this is by no means a complete list of promising euro fighters and it wasn't meant to be one. I should also point out that this list might a little biased to my home country Finland, but it's just because I know these guys and believe in their abilities. And my second editorial note is that I left out guys like Gunnar Nelson and Paul Sass from the list, because they have gained attention already in the MMA media.
Please leave your comments and hint other interesting prospects if you know some.

Karlos "The Terminator" Vemola 6-0. UK/Czech.
Vemola was born in the Czech, but lives, trains and fights now in the UK. This young man is undefeated. He has a very aggressive style in the cage: he swings for the fences, bullrushes his opponents, takes them down and pounds them out. Vemola is big enough for the HW division, but the athletic abilities are his biggest asset. He is quick and agile for a guy that weights 240 pounds. His longest fight lasted little over three minutes, which gives you some idea of his style, but also about the level of competition he’s fought. He did beat Stav Economou, who was 8-0, in his last fight and that raised Vemola on the UK rankings quite a bit. Vemola was scheduled to fight Neil Grove for the undisputed UK HW championship on Dec 5th, but he had to pull out due to an injury.
Vemola is a bit rough around the edges and still needs work on his skill set, but he’s got natural gameness, brute force and great athletic qualities for a heavyweight.
Interview (video)

Damian "Polish Pitbull" Grabowski 10-0. Poland.
Polish Damian Grabowski is without a doubt the hottest HW prospect in Europe. Grabowski’s base is BJJ and Submission wrestling, which is quite rare in the HW division. Grabowski’s technically solid grappling is the main reason he’s undefeated. Athletic Damian isn’t the biggest HW and he could probably also fight at 205. He has finished every one of his fights and most of them in a minute or so. Grabowski was scheduled to fight Valentin Overeem in November, but his shoulder got busted and needed surgery.

Maro "Mean Machine" Perak 15-1. Croatia.
Croatian judoka Perak has a great record against moderate competition. His only loss is to Jan Blachowicz (hasn't fought since 2008, anyone know what's up?), who RNC’ed Perak back in 2008. Perak needs to fight stiffer competition so we can really see what he’s made of, but he’s already shown in his past fights that he has great takedowns from the clinch, effective GnP and a good physique.

Michal "Sztanga" Fijalka 6-0. Poland
Fijalka, like many polish fighters, is a great grappler, but he can hold his own on the feet too. Still undefeated after 6 bouts, Fijalka raised his stock in his last fight where he choked out Dave Dalgliesh (30-19-2). I think it’s time to step up the competition for this promising up-n-comer and give him a shot at the big leagues.

Dragon Tesanovic 5-0. Serbia.
Tesanovic has only five pro fights along with his few amateur fights. Still he has already shown that he’s a well-rounded fighter with a great ground game. Long limbed Tesanovic really launched himself on the top prospects list last year when he choked out Antoni Chmielewski, a polish judoka with a 18-5 MMA record.

Diego Gonzalez 13-3.Sweden
Gonzales, a member of Hilti NHB, has awesome ground game and takedowns along with solid boxing. He tooled and RNCed Dan Hardy back in 2006, but the win later turned to no contest (was it because of the cheap shot Gonzalez made during touching gloves? I dunno). Hardy avenged the loss by KOing Gonzalez in the third. Anyways Gonzalez is a tough cookie, especially if he cuts down to 155 for the fights in the big league. Now that Gonzalez is 8-0 since losing to Hardy and Hardy has been so successful in the UFC, I think it would be a great time to bring him to the UFC and give him a shot at some UFC’s euro event.

Simeon "The Grin" Thoresen 11-1-1. Norway
Hellboy Hansen’s top pupil Simeon Thoresen is an allround fighter. Thoresen has been into sports his whole life: first he did gymnastics, then kickboxing and finally started training grappling and MMA.  He has heavy GnP with strong top control and a slick guard game where he uses his long limbs very well.

Anton Kuivanen 11-4. Finland
Kuivanen is 7-1 in his last eight fights with the lone loss to top european ranked Bendy Casimir. Kuivanen had Casimir in big trouble on the feet, but Bendy managed to pull a kneebar out of his ass and won the fight. If Kuivanen had won that bout, I think we would’ve seen him on the bigger stages already. Anyways I feel like he has improved a ton since losing to Casimir. Kuivanen has very good striking and rapidly improving grappling skills. This explosive young man has a flashy style with flying knees etc, which have made him a fan favourite here in Finland. In his last fight Kuivanen beat tough Lithuanian Erikas Petraitis (19-9) by decision. Kuivanen pretty much dominated the whole fight, but couldn’t finish experienced and slick Petraitis on the ground. He is fighting Mairbek Taisumov (8-2) on the feb 5th at the M1 Selection in Hilversum, Netherlands. (fight vids etc)

Jerry "AD/HD" Kvarnström 7-0. Finland.
Kvarnström, a former member of Finnish national wrestling team, has obviously world class wrestling skills (2005 he lost by points 1-2 to Greco-roman world champ). He’s also extremely athletic: strong as hell, agile, explosive and durable. He has won every single one of his fights by choking out his opponent. It has always been the same story: takedown, ground and pound and choke. For last two years Kvarnström has been dealing with overtraining and mysterious infections. These problems have forced him to take some time off from training and fighting, but lately he has been sharpening his skills by fighting in muay thai. If Kvarnström can get past the health issues, I expect him to wreck people, at least in the European circuit. There’s no official fight scheduled to him at the moment, but there are rumours (source: Jerry himself) that he’s fighting in April. Let’s hope that everything works out and we get to see this beast in the cage again.

Mathias Klockars 5-0. Finland.
There are not many 135ers in the world that would like to stand and bang with this guy. Klockars is a former kickboxing world champion and also holds a pro boxing record of 5-1. His wrestling and ground game has improved nicely over the years. If he was ten years younger, I would be hyping the hell out of him, but since he’s mid-thirties already, I just hope he makes a good one last run in MMA before retiring from combat sports. Klockars is scheduled to fight spanish David Aranda at the Cage 12 event 27th of February in Vantaa, Finland. Don’t blink if you get to watch this guy fight.


  1. Tom Niinimaki`s comeback is also very interesting. He has fights like hatsu hioki on his back. He comes back after 2,5 year time off. But has been active in ADCC, BJJ and boxing. In ADCC he has several finnish championsips in WW and LW but his most of tought matches has been in 145 pounds. Now his fight weightclass is LW he hasnt been even near WW but the WW matches has been compliments for his Team mates in FINNFIGHTERSGYM still he has won . And dont forget that he has started his MMA career in age of 18 in year 1999 and now in the age of 27 he is .finnish chamoinship. And then he had kikcboxing finnish championship under his belt and in MMA he´s strengt has always been in standing and sub defence. I think that in his break he has developed to allaround fighter. His official record is 10-5-1 like i said he had fights before that. He has fight in U.S.A, Japan, England,Scotland,Switzerland and Sweden. He has also started his career in Finnfight same as example Joachim Hansen. Those were real vale tudo style tournaments with headbutts ahd stomps! He is very experienced and still only 27 years old so i think that his break has been very intensive training break and he will be ready for the uocoming events and challences up to the top!

    Also Sauli Heilimo 13-3-1 SHOOTO European champion and BJJ black belt should be on the list of interesting finnish fighters....

  2. Thanks. Yes, it's very cool that Niinimäki is making a comeback after a long lay off. I'm doing a Vol 2. on this subject and I'll surely add Niinimäki if (when) he wins his debut.