Monday, May 3, 2010

Cage 13 Spring Break Preview

Cage promotion held its first big show in February and now it’s time to step up the ante for the Spring Break. The card for this event is absolutely stacked with title fights and high quality bouts in various weight classes.

Anton Kuivanen (11-4) vs Tim Radcliffe (8-3): In the evenings main event popular hometown hero Kuivanen gets a legit challenge from the British grappler Radcliffe.

Anton Kuivanen, like his teammate Michael Grönfors, has become a semi-celebrity this spring thanks to the reality show Sali (the Gym), that plays four times a week on a finnish network. The reality series has had a good following and I hope that this newfound public status of Kuivanen and Grönfors brings loads of new fans and spectators to watch the show. To people who have followed euro MMA for a while, Kuivanen is probably more familiar due to his fighting skills. This dynamic striker has improved by leaps and bounds during the last few years and gone 7-1 in his last eight fights. The only defeat was to top Euro LW Bendy Casimir, who was getting severely beaten up by Kuivanen before pulling a kneebar literarily out of his ass. Kuivanen possesses great natural athletic abilities in speed, strength and agility. He has also beefed up steadily, which makes him now a pretty huge dude for the weight class. In his last fight Kuivanen dominated very tough and experienced Erikas Petraitis (20-9-2) at the Fight Festival 26.

British Tim Radcliffe is a BJJ brown belt, who trains at the Nova Forca under Ricardo Da Silva. Recently the grappler has beaten pretty good guys like Joakim Engberg and Paul Jenkins. However beating Abdul Mohamed (17-8) by decision about a year ago is what really lifted his stock. Radcliffe lost his latest fight in September 2009, when London Shootfighters’ Francis Heagney managed to sub him with a guillotine choke. Radcliffe hasn’t fought since. Radcliffe was scheduled to with Paul Sass, but that fight was cancelled when Sass signed with the UFC. On the feet left handed Radcliffe has good fundamentals, but he usually likes to clinch and look for trip takedowns rather than slug it out on the feet. Radcliffe has a tight top control on the ground and great BJJ basics.

Summary: While Radcliffe excels on the ground, I believe he will face a tough task in getting Kuivanen to the canvas. And even if he scores a takedown, it will be very difficult to hold the explosive Finn down. On feet Kuivanen has the advantage due to his crisper and more versatile striking game. This is an interesting clash of styles and a very good match-up between two hungry up-n-comers.

Cage LHW Title Fight: 
Marcus Vänttinen (13-2) vs Antoni Chmielewski (18-6): high quality Euro LHWs will fight for who gets to be the first ever the Cage Light Heavyweight Champion.

Just 22 years old Marcus Vänttinen has steadily improved as a fighter and also climbed to the top of the European LHW division. Tall and long limbed Vänttinen has a good ground game, thanks to his BJJ background, but lately he has been focusing on sharpening his striking skills. Besides MMA he has recently fought also muay thai and boxing bouts to test drive his improved stand up. In his last three fights Vänttinen has decisively beaten legit competition in Valdas Pocevicius (33-23), Kzrysztof Kulak (22-12) and lastly Martin Zawada (21-10). Vänttinen won the fight against Zawada by using his reach advantage on the feet and bullying the german in the clinch. In the third round Zawada crumbled a bit under pressure from Vänttinen, who took the top position and landed solid GnP on the ground until the ref decided to stop the fight. The stoppage was maybe a bit premature, but it would’ve been a clear UD win for the young Finn anyways.

Polish Chmielewski comes from a strong judo background. In judo he has finished in second place at European junior championships and Poland’s national championships, which both are respectable achievements considering the level of competition. Chmielewski’s MMA career took a flying start back in 2003, when he started fighting professionally. He opened with a ten fight winning streak before he got KO’ed by Jacek Buczko. More recently Chmielewski has beaten top Euro LHW’s in Michael Knaap and Dion Staring. However he has lost his last two fights to relatively unknown, but tough dudes Valacivius and Radosavljevic. Serbian Radosavljevic outstruck and knocked Chmielewski out just few weeks ago at WFC 10 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (video of the fight). Like most polish MMA fighters Chmielewski is primarily a grappler, while his striking is mediocre.

Summary: Vänttinen has better striking and a clear reach advantage, so he will obviously try to stay on his feet and pick his opponent apart like he did last time against Martin Zawada. Chmielewski has a strong clinch game, thanks to his judo background, that he’ll probably try to utilize in this fight too in order to get the fight to the ground. Like Chmielewski, also Vänttinen has a solid ground game, so it’ll be interesting to see how the fight plays out if it hits the canvas. Vänttinen is the favorite going into this fight, but don’t count out Chmielewski, who is an experienced fighter with slick submissions.

Cage Featherweight Title Fight: 
Tom Niinimäki (12-5) vs Ben Boekee (9-0): Two Euro top ten featherweights lock their horns in a super exciting title fight

FinnFighters Gym’s Tom Niinimäki is fighting pro MMA almost ten years now, which is a long time considering that he is just 27 years old now. Niinimäki was just 18 years old, when he started to fight old school NHB tournaments like the legendary Finn Fight. Back in 2005-2006 he fought tough guys and dropped three consecutive losses that made him take a break from the sport. Niinimäki didn’t fight MMA for 2,5 years, but kept himself busy by competing in boxing, bjj and submission grappling. Now he is back with a vengeance. Niinimäki has fought twice this year easily submitting both of his opponents.  Former lightweight and welterweight fighter has dropped down to featherweight, where he in most cases enjoys a hefty strength advantage over his opponents. Niinimäki is a complete fighter: national kickboxing champion and a successful submission grappler.

Like his opponent, Dutch Ben Boekee also has a long history in different martial arts. Boekee’s base is judo, where he is a black belt. He has also competed in muay thai, sanda (basically muay thai with throws if you’re not familiar with the sport) and different forms of grappling. In sanda Boekee has achieved Dutch championship twice, which is a pretty good merit if you consider the level of competition that the Dutch usually have in the striking arts. On the feet Boekee has solid muay thai style striking . Being a judo & sanda guy, Boekee’s clinch game is obviously one of his best weapons. On the ground Boekee has a very active guard game that he uses to set up armbars and triangles.  

Summary: Boekee is still undefeated in pro MMA (losses to Peute happened in ammy bouts), but he hasn’t faced guys like Niinimäki yet. This is a tough fight for both guys. Niinimäki looks to beat a promising prospect and get a win that could get him bigger fights, while Boekee wants to lift his own stock by beating a seasoned veteran in Niinimäki. Both guys are physically fit, very well rounded and technically sound, so this might very well be the fight of the night, especially for educated MMA fans that enjoy technical aspects of the fight game.

Michael Grönfors (5-0) vs 
Bogdan Christea (5-4): Aggressive and wellrounded fighters meet in this bout that promises non-stop action and versatile MMA fighting.

In addition to being a professional fighter Mixu Grönfors is also a reality tv star and a nightclub owner. This multitasking young man is undefeated after five professional bouts. Grönfors trains at the GB Gym in Helsinki together with such guys as Anton Kuivanen and Jasse Junkkari, who both fight in this event also. Grönfors’ best quality is his allroundness. He has technically sound striking together with effective takedowns and legit ground game. Last year Grönfors was ridden with injuries so he managed to fight just once. Being a busy businessman has also taken its toll on Grönfors’ fighting career, but now the preparations for this fight have gone without distractions.

Romanian born Christea lives now in the Netherlands, where he trains at the legendary Kops Gym in Amsterdam. Kops Gym has a long history in Olympic style wrestling and that also shows in Christea’s skillset. He has a strong clinch game and nice greco roman throws from there. Heavy-handed Christea likes to bang on the feet and doesn’t mind if he gets clipped with a couple of shots while delivering few haymakers of his own. On the ground Christea has displayed some of the most amazing sub escapes we’ve ever seen in MMA. Dude seems to be almost impossible to submit. Both of his losses have come via decision: first one to Tom Niinimäki, who also fights on this card and second in his latest fight to very tough russian Mikhail Malutin. Christea lost to Malutin by split decision in the M1 Challenge tournament final.

Summary: Christea is a brawler, who charges forward and swings for the fences. Grönfors has more technical striking and agile footwork that he can use to stay away from the bombs that Christea will throwing. On the grappling department I believe these guys are quite even, so I expect the resolution of this fight to happen on the feet. Will Christea put Grönfors to sleep with a heavy haymaker or will Grönfors pick Christea a part with crisp counterstriking? We’ll have to wait and see how this exciting match up plays out.

Ville Yrjölä (4-0) vs.Sergej Grecicho (7-2): Tap-or-snap will probably be the name of the game in this bout between two very slick grapplers.

Still undefeated after four pro fights Yrjölä is a promising up-n-comer with very dangerous grappling skills. As a MMA fighter member of Riihimäen Heracles is like most of his teammates: quality grappling enhanced with a strong physique. Yrjölä, who won the Swedish Open in submission grappling last fall, has made short work of his last three opponents spending less than a five minute round in all three fights combined. So it’s definitely time to step up the game and Grecicho will certainly do that.

Lithuanian Grecicho is a two time Combat Sambo World Champion. He possess super slick grappling skills on the ground and also has the tools to take the fight to ground, where he can do his magic. Grecicho has a strong clinch game and effective trip takedowns from it. In the submission department he favors armbars and triangles and his leg locks are as painful as you would expect from a sambo champ. Grecicho hasn’t lost since 2006 and has won his last five bouts. In his last fight he subbed highly touted Jerry Kvarnström (7-1) with a triangle.

Summary: Grecicho’s striking is his weak point, which is why he usually does whatever it takes to get the fight to the ground. He likes to play from the bottom, so he doesn’t mind much about the position he ends up in. In some of his previous fights he has also shown that conditioning isn’t one of his strengths. If Yrjölä manages to keep this one standing for a while and drag the fight to the later rounds, he could pull an upset. I believe this fight will be like two Tasmanian devils trying to rip limbs off each other. Don’t blink.

1 comment:

  1. Radcliffe is out due to an injury. Dutch Raymond Jarman will replace him. The fight with Kuivanen is now scheduled as a catchweight bout at 73 kilos.