Between the Fight Festival 27 fights I had a chance to change few words with two of the toughest Finnish lightweight fighters: Jarkko Latomäki and Janne Tulirinta. Both guys are in a very interesting phase of their fighting careers as international fights and bigger stages loom in the near future.
Jarkko “Pohjanmaa’s Forging Hammer” Latomäki (16-6), who was featured in my Euro Prospect vol. 2, has climbed to the very top of the European LW division using his impressive athletic abilities and bone crushing grappling. Latomäki is now 5-1 in his last six and the only loss came by the way of injury. In his last fight Latomäki choked out the highly regarded Oriol Gaset of Spain at the Cage 12 show and captured the Cage LW belt.
On his win over Gaset: Latomäki said that he was very happy to get this win. Maybe even more than usually, because he came into the fight from a long layoff. The layoff was caused by a fracture that he got from his fight against Mairbek Taisumov at Botnia Punishment in july 2009. He said that Gaset was a respectable opponent and a good win, but also that he was confident the whole time leading to the fight that he would beat him.
On cutting weight: Latomäki is known for his impressive physique and raw strength that separate him for most lightweights. When asken about the weight cut he said that it’s getting harder all the time. Currently he is walking around as heavy as 80 kg (178 lbs) with very little fat, so it’s no wonder that the cut to 70kg/155lbs is an exhausting job to do.
On his future plans: He is currently talking to several international organizations, but nothing is signed yet. He thinks it’s time to step up the level competition and really see where he’s at in the LW division. Jarkko also said that he might take some amateur boxing fights again this spring in order to stay in shape and polish his striking skills while the negotiations about his future in MMA are ongoing.
Janne “Shotgun” Tulirinta (12-3) has steadily improved as a fighter over the seven years he has competed in MMA. He has fought his last seven fights in the M-1 Challenge, where he went 6-1 and is currently riding a four fight win streak. Now it’s time to step up the game as the 30 year old representative of Riihimäen Heracles just signed with the Bellator FC. Tulirinta, who still works as a police officer, will participate in Bellator’s LW tournament and his debut is taking place in Hollywood, Florida at 8th of April.
On signing with Bellator: Tulirinta said that he was very happy to get the deal done. It had been a goal of his and his management for a long time to get signed by some major promotion. He feels that he’s now in a phase of his MMA career that he needs to give it all he’s got and see how far it’ll take him.
On his day job as a police officer: Janne told me that his unit and supervisors have been supportive of his fighting career. Tulirinta also said that he has never thought of leaving his regular day job, because MMA is such an injury-prone sport and he is, to quote him, “a man with a mortgage”.
On dropping from welterweight to lightweight: Tulirinta, who has previously fought at 77kg/170 lbs commented that he has been steadily dropping weight now for six months or so. He has dropped 6,5 kilos (15 pounds) and is now at his target weight of 77-78 kg (171-173 lbs). He felt that the cut to the LW limit should not be a problem.
On changing his training for the Bellator tournament: He said that he has focused a lot more on strength and conditioning training. Heavy S&C training has also helped him to lose weight. Tulirinta, who trains regularly with other top finnish lightweights like Niko Puhakka and Anton Kuivanen, was pretty confident that he will do just fine with the level of competition in the Bellator tournament. When asked about facing American fighters who are known for their strong wrestling, Tulirinta was happy to welcome the challenge and said that he believes he can end fights both on the feet and on the ground.
Thanks to both guys and I wish them all the best in their upcoming fights.