Sunday, November 14, 2010

CAGE 14 - ALL STARS Preview

Time and place: 20.11.2010 at the Barona Arena, Espoo, Finland

Cage promotion has been quickly making its way to the very top of European fight promotions and the Cage 14 All Stars event will raise their stock even more. The fight card is absolutely stacked with high quality title fights in various weight classes. The crown of the evening is the lightweight super fight between two top euro LW’s in Anton Kuivanen and Tim Radcliffe.

Main card:
Lightweight Superfight: Anton Kuivanen (12-4) vs. Tim Radcliffe (9-3)
The main event of the evening is a superfight between the hometown hero Anton “Wolverine” Kuivanen and UK’s Tim Radcliffe. This fight was suppose to happen already at the Cage – Spring Break last may, but Radcliffe injured his foot and the fight was cancelled. Hopefully both guys make it to the cage this time, because this fight has loads of potential in it.
Helsinki’s own Anton Kuivanen became a bit of a celebrity last year in his homeland due to a reality show called “Sali” (the Gym), that followed the lives of Finnish MMA fighters. Kuivanen’s popularity also explains why this superfight is the main event over the numerous high profiled title fights on the same card. Kuivanen has a pretty good record of 12-4, but it’s getting even better. He’s 9-1 in his last ten with the only loss coming in the hands of Bendy Casimir. Since that loss the rapidly improving Kuivanen has won all his fights in a dominating fashion and is currently riding a five fight win streak. Kuivanen’s highly versatile and explosive striking is still his main weapon of choice, but during the last couple of years he has managed to take his wrestling and ground game to another level also. He has had few nagging injuries in the past that have affected his training and of course his performances in the cage, but he’s been healthy now. Kuivanen has been lately honing his skills at the American Top Team gym in Florida, so it quite possible that we get to see completely new tricks from this young gun.
UK’s Tim Radcliffe has been fighting 2007 and has quickly climbed on the top of the British LW division with wins over guys like Jason Young, Abdul Mohamed and Jason Ball. The pupil of Ricardo Da Silva has a strong base in BJJ, where he holds a brown belt, and in Chinese Boxing aka Sanshou. Radcliffe is a pretty physical fighter, who has effective trip takedowns from the clinch. His striking has improved every time he has fought and especially in his last fight against Jason Ball, he showed solid skills on the feet. In 2010 Radcliffe suffered from injuries and was able to fight just once. After the Ball fight in June, Radcliffe got married and took some time off. Now he is really looking to make a comeback and will definitely come prepared for this fight.

In summary: Both of these top European lightweights are big and strong fighters, who cut a considerable amount of weight to make the weight limit. While both guys have completely skill sets from MMA, there are differences between the two also. Kuivanen prefers to stand and bang, while Radcliffe, whose base is BJJ, usually tries to take the fight to the ground. 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 fight is an interesting clash of styles and there’s also a lot of stake here for the fighters, because the winner of this fight rises on the very top of Euro LW division.

Lightheavyweight Title Fight: Marcus Vänttinen  (16-2) vs. Victor O'Donnell (7-1)
Finland’s hot prospect Marcus “Caveman” Vänttinen gets a serious challenge from the former The Ultimate Fighter competitor Victor O’Donnell of the United States.
At just 23 years of age Marcus Vänttinen has cemented his status as one of the most promising LHW fighters in European continent. During the last two of years Vänttinen has managed to put together a seven fight win streak against respectable competition with just two fights going to the judges. In his last fight the tall and technical Vänttinen crushed UFC-vet Ivan Serati with ease. The young finn was able to control the positioning on the ground and threw heavy shots from the top, that made Serati tap from strikes at the end of the first round. Despite his young age, Vänttinen is a patient fighter with a high fight IQ and likes to pick his shots and methodically break down his opponents. He uses his long reach very effectively by applying constant pressure with straight punches and low kicks. On the ground he likes to grind his opponents with short punches and elbows while looking for submissions and maintaining good positional control.
Victor O’Donnell is probably best known for his appearance in the Ultimate Fighter season 11. O’Donnell’s TUF gig was a short one as he lost his get-into-the-house fight to Chris Camozzi by judges decision. The fight with Camozzi was a great back-and-forth battle that was a draw after two rounds and went to the sudden death round. O’Donnell earned his TUF spot by submitting a respected vet in Forrest Petz and finishing highly regarded Rafael Natal with strikes. After the TUF experience, O’Donnell has fought twice and won both bouts by stoppage. O’Donnell has heavy hands and likes to slug it out on the feet and like almost all American fighters he has solid wrestling to turn to if things don’t work out on the feet. There is couple of O’Donnell’s pro fights missing from his pro record at Sherdog. The record should be 9-1 (6-0 ammy).

In Summary: Vänttinen, who walks around at 220 pounds (98 kg) and 6’3” ( 193cm), will hold a significant size and reach advantage over O’Donnell, who is just 5’10” (178 cm) and usually fights at middleweight. These facts will probably show in the game plans set for this fight. Vänttinen will try to control the distance and use his long reach, while O’Donnell has to try to close the distance and get inside of Vänttinen’s long limbs. O’Donnell usually presses forward with full steam and will look to bring the fight to Vänttinen right from the start. This should be an exciting fight and I’m not surprised if it gets the fight of the night honors.

To be continued....

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