Fight Festival 32 show went down last night at the Töölö Sports Hall near downtown Helsinki, Finland. One of the oldest European fight promotions delivered once again a night of high level combat sports action to a packed house of fight fans.
In the main event Fight Festival mainstay Niko Puhakka (26-12) locked horns with Japanese UFC veteran Yoshiyuki Yoshida (15-6). The fight was an entertaining grappling battle between two excellent grapplers. Both first and second round were spent mostly in the clinch or on the ground with both fighters landing takedowns. Puhakka however was the one who was dictating the fight on the ground and holding top position most of the time. The Finn was active with a guard passes and threw leather whenever possible. Going into the third round it seemed that Yoshida definitely needed to finish Puhakka in order to win. Third round started with a beautiful slam takedown from the Finn. Puhakka dropped solid punches from the top and made Yoshida turn to his knees with Puhakka on his back throwing strikes. Yoshida made it back to on the feet and went for a trip takedown. Puhakka managed to reverse mid air and land on top but got his head stuck in a guillotine choke. This time it was deep and Puhakka had to tap out.
It was a searing loss for the Finn who had the fight in the bag before getting caught in a late submission. Disappointed Puhakka will not rest for too long as he is set to fight in six weeks in Russia where he will defend the Draka promotion’s belt he won earlier this year. The opponent for the fight has not been signed yet.
In the co-main event Finnzillian Lucio Linhares (18-8) put his BJJ black belt in good use against the America John Doerr (6-2). Linhares scored his first takedown right off the bat when the American bullrushed him as the fight begun. On the ground Linhares systematically progressed to a more dominant position and was looking for submissions too but didn’t catch anything. The second round started like the first one with Doerr storming Linhares right away. This time Linhares greeted Doerr with a stiff right hand that sent the American crashing to the floor. On the ground Linhares finished the job with strikes from the back mount.
Linhares will also return to action soon as he will fight Sweden’s Victor Cheng (9-2) in a month at the Zone FC where the two will battle for the promotion’s middleweight belt.
In lightweight action Finnish top ranked Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (20-5) extended his winning streak to nine with a submission victory over Croatian Antun Racic (10-4). Most of the first round was spent on the ground where both fighters were looking for submissions. In the second round Vainikainen took over when he got top position on Racic. From the top Vainikainen battered his opponent with punches and knees to the body. Racic eventually got back to his feet, shooted on Vainikainen who snatched his head in a guillotine choke that made the Croatian tap out.
Vainikainen’s team mates Joni Salovaara (11-5) and Mikael Silander (8-1) were also victorious in their bouts.
After three hard fought rounds Salovaara took home a decision win over Moktar Benkaci (8-2) of France in the featherweight division. Salovaara was able to control the distance on the feet against the shorter Benkaci and punish him on the ground with strikes from the top position.
Flyweight prospect Mikael Silander faced American veteran Wade Choate (14-13). After a slow first round Silander dictated the pace with takedowns and Ground and Pound. In the third round Silander’s constant pressure on the ground got him the opportunity of a side choke. “the Hulk” squeezed hard and forced Choate to submit.
Porvoo’s Johan Vänttinen (9-2) continued his string of impressive wins. The Finn took on a much more experienced Frenchman Vincent Del Guerra (17-8). Del Guerra bombed Vänttinen with a overhand right and threatened also with a deep heel hook early in the first round but the Finn showed excellent defense and worked his way back to the feet. In the clinch Vänttinen got double underhooks and threw Del Guerra to the ground with full force. The frenchman hurt his shoulder in the takedown and couldn’t continue so Vänttinen was awarded with a TKO win in less than three minutes of the first round.
Bantamweight Janne Elonen-Kulmala (5-4) made quick work of France’s Damien Louloum (1-2). The Finn took his opponent down instantly and crushed his ribs with a heavy knee from side control. Louloum grunted in pain and tapped out.
The kickboxing bouts ended poorly for the Finns. After the sixth round the doctor stopped the WAKO world championship bout between Finland’s Jukka Saarinen and Portugal’s Antonio Sousa due to a cut in Saarinen’s eye. Before the stoppage both fighters were hurt at times in a action packed back and forth battle.
Kickboxer Jarkko Jussila got knocked out by the heavy handed Ukrainian Oliaksandr Pindrys in the sixth round.
In the night’s lone Muay Thai bout Frenchman Franck Gross took home a split decision win over Porvoo’s Jere Flinkman.
More detailed descriptions of last night’s action is available at MMA Viking’s Play-by-play.
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