In the main event of the Cage 22 card Finland’s top featherweight Tom “Stoneface” Niinimäki will put his belt on the line against the former WEC champ Chase “The Rage” Beebe of USA. Niinimäki has been ranked among the very best European featherweight for the last few years. The Finn has patiently waited for a call from the UFC to get that contract that every fighter so badly craves for these days. There’s a lot in stake for the Finn in this fight as a win over highly respected Chase Beebe should definitely be enough for Niinimäki to get his long due UFC deal. You can also put down stakes for this fight at that offers 1.25 for Niinimäki’s win while Beebe is the underdog at 3.50.

Tom Niinimäki has won eight consecutive fights since he returned to MMA in 2010. During this win streak the Finn has beaten highly regarded fighters like Sergej Grecicho (13-5), Ben Boekee (13-1) and TUF veteran Brian Pearman (7-2) who Niinimäki submitted in his US debut in June 2012. Niinimäki is the #2 ranked Nordic featherweight and Europe’s #2 featherweight. Niinimäki’s last fight was in november of 2012 at Cage 20 where the Finn quickly submitted short notice replacement Vladimir Karasiov with a guillotine choke in 91 seconds into the bout.

The experienced Finn is a rock solid allrounder with top notch skills in both striking and grappling. Besides MMA Niinimäki has competed successfully also in boxing and in grappling where he won FILA European Championships in combat grappling in 2010 and No-Gi grappling in 2011. Niinimäki’s has steadily beefed up over the years and improved his strength levels as well as conditioning. These days the FinnFighters Gym fighter is a sizable featherweight who walks around at close to ten kilos (22 lbs) above the featherweight limit.

Tom Niinimäki vs Brian Pearman at TFC 23

28 year old Chicago based Chase Beebe is a high level fighter who takes bouts in both bantamweight and featherweight divisions.  The American has full time job as a stock trader but still manages to find the time to train enough and come in shape for fights. Beebe won the WEC bantamweight belt in a title fight against Eddie Wineland in 2007 and defended it succesfully against Rani Yahya later that year. In his second title defense Beebe lost the belt to Miquel Torres in February of 2008. Beebe won all six consecutive fights in his impressive 2012.  Most notably, he beat highly rated TUF fighter Chris Tickle on Flawless FC 2 ” Hated” on December 15th. In his latest fight in February 2013 at Bellator 90 Beebe dropped a close decision to former training partner in Travis Marx.

Beebe comes from a family of wrestlers and hails from an extensive wrestling background. In college he won the Illinois state championships for four times. Strong grappling is still the corner stone of his fighting style. Beebe has seventeen submission victories on his record so it’s obvious he knows his business on the ground. Like many former wrestlers also Beebe favors chokes, especially the guillotine choke. While Beebe’s striking isn’t as technically sound as his grappling, he knows how to throw a heavy overhand right and isn’t afraid to slug it out on the feet.

Chase Beebe vs Cory Mahon at Colosseum Combat XXI

Summary: While both guys can do it all and fight each other anywhere, it is still clear that both have strengths that they would like to use. Bigger and rangier Niinimäki should have the advantage on the feet with his crisp boxing, thai style clinch work and heavy kicks. Beebe on the other hand might be the better wrestler of the two thanks to his long history with the sport. On the ground things should be quite even. Beebe has been training for this fight in high altitude with the top dogs of the famed Greg Jackson’s gym so it’s safe to assume he will come in with a full gas tank. It will interesting to see how the fight plays out if it’s goes past the half way mark.