Cage 22 has one of the biggest cards ever in Finland. One of the high profile fights on the card is the lightweight battle between Finland’s Anton Kuivanen (17-6) and USA’s Jason Pierce (10-1). UFC veteran Kuivanen is the most well known fighter in Finland while MMA fans remember Jason Pierce from his stint on the Ultimate Fighter reality show. Unibet.com has the Finn has a big favorite (1.25) over the American (3.50). Now let’s take a closer look at the match up.
Finland’s most popular MMA fighter Anton Kuivanen is back at his home promotion “Cage” after going 1-2 in the hard as nails UFC lightweight division. In the UFC Kuivanen lost his debut to Justin Salas by a decision, then won a decision over Mitch Clarke before getting submitted by Michael Chiesa at UFC 157 in February of 2013. Before his UFC stint Kuivanen had a impressive run in the Euro circuit with nine consecutive wins that includes victories over highly regarded Thiago Meller (19-5), Ivan Buchinger (22-4) and Tim Radcliffe (12-4). The Finn is crowd favorite in his come country as he is known for putting up exciting fights with his aggressive and explosive style. He has eight submission and four KO’s among his 17 career wins.
Athletic and physically powerful Kuivanen is a rock solid allrounder with a preference to striking. He likes to attack mostly with his fast hands and mix things up with occasional kicks and knee strikes. On the ground Kuivanen’s offensive skills are a bit sharper than his submission defense. Kuivanen has had several training camps at the American Top Team over the last few years and those have had a positive effect especially on the Finn’s wrestling skills.
Anton Kuivanen Highlight
Flawless MMA’s Jason Pierce is best known for his appearance on the Ultimate Fighter season 9. Pierce didn’t look too impressive on the show starting from passing out at the introduction and then showing lack of motivation throughout the show before getting kicked off the show for staph infection. Since the reality show Pierce has fought with a slow pace fighting four times in four years. During this time he has gone 3-1 with the latest one being a decision win over Andre Kase at Extreme Challenge 199 in November of 2011. Footage of Pierce’s recent fights seems to be impossible to find so it’s really to say anything about his current skill level or fighting style. Based on the few play-by-plays and Pierce’s record it would seem that he favors the grappling aspect of the game more than striking on the feet. Pierce hasn’t fought in one and a half years so it’s hard to predict what kind of fighter will step into the cage on Saturday.
Summary: Kuivanen’s performances in the UFC were all satisfactory but still it felt like all the careful game planning and preparation might have hindered a bit the Finn from performing at his best. For this fight the Finn has thrown game plans and caution to the wind. Expect the Finn to come out with guns blazing and looking to hurt Pierce right from the bell. The big question is what kind of Pierce will show up at Cage 22. Pierce is a big boy for the weight class. If he comes in shape and can make the weight without too much trouble, it’s possible that he can cause the Finn troubles with grappling heavy offense.