Sunday, November 21, 2010

UFC Bound Finns Dominate at the Cage 14 All Stars

Cage promotion has been quickly making its way to the very top of European fight promotions and the 14th event named “All Stars” cemented Cage’s status as a premier European promotion. Stacked card delivered an exciting night of fights to a packed house in Espoo, Finland. Beforehand this event was seen as a final test for the UFC bound Finns: Anton Kuivanen, Marcus Vänttinen and Tom Niinimäki. All three won after dominant performances and passed the test with flying colors.

In the main event of the evening hometown hero Anton Kuivanen scored a TKO win over the highly regarded English Tim Radcliffe. From the start it was obvious that Kuivanen, who trained five weeks at the American Top  Team in Miami for this fight, was the crisper striker on the feet. Radcliffe recognized this and managed to take Kuivanen down, but the Finn quickly escaped back to his feet. From the clinch Kuivanen landed unintentional knee to the groin of Radcliffe. After Radcliffe took his time to recover, the fight continued on the feet. Kuivanen exploded with a lighting fast combination that sent Radcliffe to the floor. Kuivanen followed stunned Radcliffe to the ground and landed some vicious ground and pound, but Radcliffe moved well on the bottom and seemed to weather the storm. However the heavy strikes landed by Kuivanen caused a huge mouse on Radcliffe’s eye, making the ref stop the fight. This was a big win for Anton Kuivanen who is now riding a six fight win streak and clearly ready for his shot at the big league.

Marcus Vänttinen defended victoriously his Cage LHW belt against the tough American Victor O’Donnell. Vänttinen, who had a considerable size and reach advantage over his opponent, controlled the fight with numerous takedowns and superior clinch work. In the first round O’Donnell went for a guillotine choke and armbar, but Vänttinen defended calmly and answered with crushing knees to the body. The second round was mostly spent on the ground, where the fighters kept sweeping each other and switching positions. Vänttinen was on top most of the time landing short elbows and body punches on the American, who defended well and stayed active the whole time. The third round was much like the second with Vänttinen holding top position on the ground. Near the end of the round O’Donnell swept Vänttinen, who answered right back with a triangle armbar combination. O’Donnell’s hand was completely extended, but somehow the American gutted out from the submission. After three rounds of exciting fighting judges awarded Marcus Vänttinen with a clear cut unanimous decision win. Vänttinen has now eights wins in a row against respectable competition, so getting signed by the UFC should be just a matter of time.

Third Finn that had a lot on line was Tom Niinimäki, who locked horns with the Lithunian submission ace Sergej Grecicho. Before this fight for the Cage Featherweight belt both guys were on the verge of getting signed by a major promotion. In the first round Niinimäki pushed the visibly smaller Grecicho to the cage wall and took him down. Grecicho put Niinimäki to a half nelson type neck crank and held it for a long time. Eventually Niinimäki got his head free and begun to pound Grecicho with heavy body shots and elbows. The second round was much like the first one with Niinimäki getting top control and landing solid shots on the ground. The final round started with Grecicho dropping for a guillotine, but experienced Niinimäki fought out of it. Two time Sambo world champ Grecicho, who is known for having brutal leg locks, then quickly snatched a tight reserve heelhook. Niinimäki however showed remarkable calmness and technical skills as he perfectly defended every leg lock variation that Grecicho tried to apply on him. After Niinimäki got his legs free, he jumped on Grecicho landing heavy punches on the Lithuanian, but the time ran out and the fight went to the judges, who gave the UD to Niinimäki. In the post fight interview Niinimäki said that the half nelson neck crank in the first round caused a stinger to his neck and his right to go numb. The fact that Niinimäki was able to dominate Grecicho for two more rounds with basically one hand made his performance last night even more impressive. With a win over Grecicho, Niinimäki moves to number two on the European FW ranking with just Joachim Hansen ahead of him. Like Kuivanen and Vänttinen, also Niinimäki has earned his shot at a major promotion. Niinimäki is still undefeated at featherweight and put together an impressive five fight win streak in 2010.

In the lightweight title fight Slovakian Ivan “Buki” Buchinger  took the belt from the Finn Jarkko Latomäki. Buchinger, who fought with long friction pants, got taken down by the wrestling powerhouse Latomäki, but quickly swept him and landed in side mount. As Latomäki was trying to escape, Buchinger quickly jumped on his back and immediately slapped on a rear naked choke, forcing Latomäki to tap out. This was a great win for the Slovakian grappler, who now has a overall record of 15 wins and just two losses.

The welterweight title fight was an awesome slugfest between the BJJ black belt Gustavo Picone and Imatra’s fearless Ville Räsänen. Picone had Räsänen in some hairy situations on the ground in the first round, but Räsänen defended well and was even able to sweep the high class BJJer. The second and third rounds were action packed with fighters wildly exchanging punched on the feet. Räsänen seemed to get the better of these exchanges as Picone begun to fade after the half way point. After a grueling fight judges scored the fight to Räsänen.

The results:
Janne Elonen- Kulmala vs David Häggström: Häggström by UD
JP Vainikainen vs Jake Anttila: Vainikainen by guillotine choke R1
Kai Puolakka vs Raimonas Sinica: Puolakka by TKO strikes R1
Ville Yrjölä vs Laimonas Stansicas: Yrjölä by UD
Tom Niinimäki vs Sergej Grecicho: Niinimäki by UD
Jarkko Latomäki vs Ivan Buchinger: Buchinger by RNC R1
Ville Räsänen vs Gustavo Picone: Räsänen by UD
Marcus Vänttinen vs. Victor O'Donnell: Vänttinen by UD
Anton Kuivanen vs. Tim Radcliffe: Kuivanen by TKO strikes R1 5.00

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