MMAViking sat down with the UFC lightweight Anton Kuivanen who just few weeks ago signed the long awaited deal with the biggest promotion in the world. Finnish powerhouse will make his Octagon debut next Wednesday when he fights American Justin Salas on the 15th of Feb at the UFC on Fuel TV show in Omaha, Nebraska. In this third part of the interview Kuivanen answers to questions from his fans. Check out the parts one and two if you missed them.
MMAViking: Okay, let’s move on to questions from the fans. First questions is that how much do you cut weight and how do you do it?
Anton: My weight hovers around 78-80 kilos depending on if there’s a fight coming up or not. At this point (two weeks before the fight) I’m still eating pretty well but my weight starts to slowly come down due to exhausting training. Usually a week from the fight my weight is about 76 kilos. Then on the last week I drop down approximately one kilo per day. I lose maybe two kilos of water weight in a day when doing exercises with clothes on and then rehydrate one kilo back. The last three kilos I cut off on the day of the weigh-ins by training with a sweat suit on or sitting in a sauna.
MMAViking: What areas have you tried to improve after you last fight?
Anton: Lately I have focused a lot on defensive striking like covering up well and having good movement. I have also trained a lot of ground game and learned new tricks on the ground.
MMAViking: Are you going to stay in Finland or maybe move to the US to train?
Anton: I’m sure that I’m going to travel to the US to train again but at the moment I’m completely focus on this fight and I don’t make any plans beyond that. In a long run I think it’s necessary for me to train abroad. For me the ideal solution would be to spend the winters in Florida and summer time in Finland (laughs).
MMAViking: UFC recommends that their fighters use Twitter to communicate with their fans. Will you do that?
Anton: Friend of mine actually set me up with a Twitter account already but I can’t get in with the password I got (laughs). When I was in Florida, guys like Jeremy Stephens were using Twitter all the time. I try to get this password thing sorted and definitely will use Twitter in the future to interact with my fans.
MMAViking: Is there anything that you would now do otherwise in your career if given the chance?
Anton: Great questions. I have to think about this one a bit. Well, I don’t regret anything that has happened. I believe there’s a meaning behind everything that has happened and that I have learned from everything I have been through. Even if I had the chance to go back in time and change something, I wouldn’t do it. I’m happy with my life and where I am at the moment.
MMAViking: Do you do any other work besides fight?
Anton: No, not anymore. I feel that I have to concentrate 100 percent on improving my skills and developing as a fighter if I’m going to make it on this level. This presents some financial challenges at the moment but it’s just something we have to deal with.
MMAViking: Do you train grappling with the gi on?
Anton: Very rarely these days. I would like to roll with a gi on too as it develops your ground game in a slightly different manner than no-gi. At the moment it seems that I have no room for it in my training schedule. I have trained with the gi on in the past, for example in Brazil when we spent couple of months training at Demian Maia’s gym.
MMAViking: Who are the toughest guys in the UFC lightweight division in your opinion?
Anton: Benson Henderson has been really convincing in his latest bouts. I also like Jim Miller who recently lost to Henderson. Miller is really good and I like to way he fights and his determination. Frankie Edgar has also put on great performances in his recent fights. He has unbelievable ability to come back to the fight from the verge of destruction.
MMAViking: Who are the fighters you would like to train with?
Anton: Frankie Edgar would be a really good training partner for me. Great wrestling and endless cardio with good striking. Previously mentioned Henderson and Miller would be awesome to train with too.
MMAViking: Have you recently trained with people from other combat sports?
Anton: Not that much lately. Of course I have trained a lot of grappling with these grappling specialists that we have at GB Gym: “Head Crusher” Haverinen, “Minigun” Manninen and Antti Mannila. They can offer me tons of challenges in that area. I did couple boxing sessions with Eva Wahlström (female pro boxer). She’s a lot smaller but it’s a good technical training to spar with her. I have also sparred boxing few times with Anssi Korhonen who is a former national champ. It’s tough to find people from other sports who could train with me on the terms that we would like. If you go to train at their gym then the training is of course done with their terms and then it’s usually less beneficial for MMA fighters.
MMAViking: What are the most challenges things in life when you’re a professional fighter in the Nordic?
Anton: Tough to say as I feel like I’m living my dream. But yeah maybe financial challenges are the most difficult ones. I have never put much emphasize to having a lot of money but it’s still an issue that needs to be solved in life. There are sacrifices that you have to make as a pro fighter like you can’t go out drinking every Saturday with your friends or sometimes you don’t have enough for your close ones.
MMAViking: What does your diet consists of?
Anton: On normal days I would say it’s just normal foods. Lots of meat based foods with rice, pasta and veggies. I eat salads every day. Berries and fruits too. I enjoy good food from different cultures and like to eat out every now and then.
MMAViking: How do you take care of your body?
Anton: I have massage session with Jasse Junkkari at the GB gym once a week. He works on my muscles and checks that everything is ok. Stretching and recovery training are part of my normal training schedule too.
MMAViking: One last question from the fans. What advice would you give to young fighters who thinking about a career in MMA?
Anton: I don’t think there are any big secret. If you want to make it in this sport, you have to work really hard to achieve your goals. And you need to believe in yourself. Work hard, train hard and believe that you can do it. Also you need to love what you do. It gives you the natural motivation to get better in it.
This was the third and final part of the detailed interview with Anton “Wolverine” Kuivanen. MMA Viking wishes all the best for Anton in his UFC debut next Wednesday! You don’t forget to watch the fight on Facebook!