Previously Carelia Fight shows have been focused on presenting local talent for the local crowd but this time the promoter has made a decision to “go big” with the fight card in order to pull new crowd from a distance. It’s safe to say that the promoter has succeeded in the task as the card has a nice chunk of top Finnish talent on it: Niko Puhakka, Lucio Linhares, Ville Räsänen, Juha Saarinen, Toni Valtonen and Timo-Juhani Hirvikangas.

In the third part of the preview package we take a look at main and co-main event of the night. Take a look at the the first and the second part of the previews in case you missed them.

LHW: Juha “Juice” Saarinen (8-2) vs. Florian Martin (2-1), France: Top Nordic light heavyweight Juha Saarinen meets relatively unknown Florian Martin of France.

FinnFighters Gym’s Juha Saarinen has steadily climbed the ladders in the Nordic light heavyweight division and is currently placed at number three on MMA Viking’s Nordic Rankings.  FinnFighters is known for having great grapplers under it’s roof and Saarinen is no exception. His biggest strengths are throws and trips takedowns from the clinch and a good technical ground game. For the last couple of years he has focused more on his striking and improvement has followed on that area of the fight game.  Saarinen holds notable wins over UFC middleweight Magnus Cedenblad and Russian grappler Baga Agaev who Saarinen choked out in the first round in his latest fight at Lappeenranta Fight Night 7. Before the Agaev win Saarinen suffered his second professional debut in the hands of Mikhail Zayats who battered Saarinen to a TKO stoppage by cuts at Cage 18 in March of 2012.

Juha Saarinen (on the right) Choked Out Russian Grappler Baga Agaev at Lappeenranta Fight Night 7 in May of 2012

There is not much information available on Florian Martin and his MMA career but one thing is for sure: he has a lot more fights than what his “official” record at Sherdog lists. Many of the MMA events in France were and still are unsanctioned or fights are being fought under amateur banner despite having pretty much the same pro rules.  Based on the footage we’ve seen from the French he seems to be a solid allrounder with a preference to ground fighting. Martin is a lanky and long limbed fighter who throws more kicks than hand strikes on the feet.

Summary: Beforehand all the signs favor Saarinen in this fight. This is a massive step up in competition for Florian Martin who has fought most of his fight under French rules where strikes on the ground are banned. Based on the insider comments that MMA Viking has received Saarinen has performed impressively in sparring training and is in peak shape. Florian’s best chance is to try to go for the finish straight for the bell and blitz Saarinen with strikes. Once the fight goes on Saarinen’s superior grappling will dictate where the fight is fought and that will be the beginning of the end for the Frenchman.

Juha Saarinen vs Baga Agaev at Lappeenranta Fight Night 7

Florian Martin vs Johan Romming at Contenders 2


BW: Timo-Juhani “Tipi” Hirvikangas (4-1) vs. Freddy Debessel (7-4), Belgium: Two grapplers locks horns in this bantamweight bout

Like Saarinen also Tipi Hirvikangas hails from the famed FinnFighters Gym. The Turku based grappling wizard has been the number one submission grappler in his weight class for the past few years. Among other accomplishments the Finn has won ADCC European Championships twice. Lately he has put in a lot of work to improve as a MMA fighter and honed his striking. Since losing to top Euro featherweight Joni Salovaara in his second MMA bout, the new and improved Hirvikangas has been on a roll and won all of his fights with ease. Thanks to a extensive background in grappling he has wide variety of both takedowns on the feet and submission holds on the ground with leglocks being his specialty. At the Cage 18 event Hirvikangas showed off his grappling skills when he took down and finished Finnish sub wrestling champ Miika Kauppinen in a minute with a heelhook.

tom niinimäki
Tipi Hirvikangas (on the right) Trains with Top Euro FW Tom Niinimäki at the FinnFighter’s Gym in Turku, Finland

Freddy Debessel has also a grappling heavy style in the cage. Four of his wins have come via submission while the rest are decision wins. Debessel has been a busy competitor in MMA and racked up all his eleven career wins between 2010-2011. His latest bout is from november of 2011 when he submitted Bruno Benart with a rear naked choke at OFC 3 event in Manage, Belgium. Like his opponent also Debessel has competed a lot in submission wrestling. So far Debessel has fought on small shows in France where the level of competition isn’t the best and Hirvikangas is a big step up for him.

Summary: interesting match up between two good grapplers should provide entertainment and excitement for that part of the crowd that enjoys technical battles over bloody slugfest. Stylistically this is a bad match up for Debessel as he is forced to measure his ground skills with the superior grappler in Hirvikangas. This fight will hit the deck and that will spell trouble for the Belgian.

Timo-Juhani  Hirvikangas vs Martin Fouda at StandUpWar