Rising welterweight talent Kai Puolakka (9-3) is one of the Finns on Cage 22’s stacked card. In a highly interesting welterweight bout Puolakka will lock horns with the dangerous Frenchman Mickael Lebout (7-2). Unibet.com currently has Puolakka has a heavy favorite at 1.25 over the underdog Lebout at 3.50.
Puolakka has gone 6-1 in his last seven bouts with the lone loss coming a year ago at Cage 18 to Sweden’s Nico Musoke. The Swede is a common denominator between Puolakka and Lebout as also Lebout has recently fought Musoke. Lebout and Musoke met in December of 2012 at Vision FC 5. Musoke was declared as the winner but the controversial decision was later overruled and turned into no contest by the Swedish MMA federation.
MMA Viking talked to Puolakka at GB Gym in Helsinki, Finland where the Finn was getting ready for a training session with fellow Cage 22 fighters Anton Kuivanen, Tom Niinimäki and Juho Valamaa among others.
MMA Viking: You had your last fight in February at the Cage 21 where you tapped out Ukrainian Evgeni Fomenko in the second round with a triangle choke. What have you been up to since that bout?
Puolakka: Things have been good. I didn’t get any injuries in the fight with Fomenko so I could continue with training right away. In March I competed in submission wrestling at the ADCC Finnish Championships and took home a silver medal in the under 83 kilo category. And I had a month’s vacation from my day job which allowed me to really focus on training.
MMA Viking: Anton Kuivanen is one of your main training partners. With Kuivanen spending the last few months in Florida, did that affect your training?
Puolakka: Yeah, it did have an affect on my training earlier this year. It was hard for me to get real tough MMA sparring in here while Anton was gone. But still there’s plenty of great training partners here for MMA, striking and grappling. I have sparred once a week with the Muay Thai dudes here at GB gym. We got loads of GB gym fighters fighting on the Cage 22 card so now we all get to prepare together on the same pace which is a really good thing for us all.
MMA Viking: You’re fighting France’s Mickael Lebout at Cage 22. What are your thoughts on the opponent?
Puolakka: Well he looks to be a allround fighter who had a real close fight with Musoke. Lebout has good endurance so he can go three hard rounds. He is slick on the ground, likes throw punches, fight in the clinch so pretty much anything goes with him. I don’t think that either of us will hold significant advantage over the other in any part of the game. I can definitely fight him anywhere, on the feet and on the ground. It will be a tough scrap. I have to work hard in the cage to win this fight. If I get a finish of some sort then it will come but the main goal is to get the win.
MMA Viking: Do you feel that you’re in a good shape for this fight? And how do you see the weight cut going for this fight?
Puolakka: Yes, I know that I’m in a great shape now. Training for this fight has gone really well so I’m ready to go full rounds if needed. We’re going to go hard in training for couple more sessions and then take it easy after that. The weigh cut will be the same as before, roughly 8 to 10 kilos. I will follow my weight cut routine that I have used so many times before so I don’t think there will any problems with it. Cutting weight is never fun but you get used to it.
MMA Viking: Will the fight at Cage 22 be the last fight for you on this spring season?
Puolakka: I believe so. The whole fight scene just closes down for the summer here in Finland so it’s a bit tough to get ready for a fight when everyone is out there enjoying the summer time. I will try to improve my skills and physique over the summer and focus less on actual combat training and sparring. But you never know what kind of offers you might get. It’s hard to say no to a really interesting fight.
MMA Viking: Ok, thanks for the interview Kai and best of luck with your fight at Cage 22. Shoutout to anyone?
Puolakka: Thanks to my sponsor Crest fight gear and Fast supplements who support me on my career.
Stay tuned for more Cage 22 news from MMA Viking. Cage 22 will go down on the 11th of May in Vantaa, Finland. MMA Viking will of course be on the spot in full force and bring you live play-by-play, full results and post-fight interviews!