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.  The card takes place on Saturday, September 1, in Imatra, Finland.

In the second part of the massive preview package we break down the fights Niko Puhakka versus Sebastien Garguier  and Toni Valtonen versus Ilja Skondric. Check out the first part of the preview in case you missed it.

Niko Puhakka (on the left) beat UFC vet Brian Geraghty at Fight Festival

LW: Niko Puhakka (25-11) vs. Sebastien Garguier (9-9), France: Top Euro lightweight Niko Puhakka meets durable Frenchman Sebastian Garguier

Finnish MMA veteran Niko Puhakka has been ranked among the top European lightweights for the past years. If Puhakka’s character was less controversial to the public eye, it’s safe to assume that we would’ve already seen him on bigger stages at some point. Early in his career Puhakka was a straight forward violent brawler which lead to him having mixed success in his first twenty or so fights. However Puhakka’s skill level has drastically improved during the last few years and strings of victories have followed. The Finn is now 8-2 in his last ten with the losses coming to famed Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio and Luiz Azeredo. Puhakka holds notable wins over UFC vets John Gunderson and Brian Geraghty. Despite getting outgrapple by Aurelio and Azeredo, it is grappling that is Puhakka’s strongest point nowdays. Physically strong Finn has excellent trips and throws from the clinch as well as an effective power double leg takedown. On the ground Puhakka has heavy top control from where he likes to soften up his opponents with strikes before going for chokes. Puhakka is no slouch on the feet either. He sticks with good technical boxing without using much kicks.

France’s Sebastian Garguier is an experienced fighter who has fought in all sorts of strange places around the world Thailand, Guam, Costa Rica, Macau and of course Finland. The finns saw Garguier in Fight Festival 31 where the French fought a draw with Finnish lightweight Janne Tulirinta in a proper slugfest. As a fighter Garguier is a allrounder with solid skills on the feet and on the ground. His biggest weakness might be mediocre takedown defense which has lead to decision defeats against superior wrestlers. Besides training in France, Garguier has also spent extended periods of time training in Las Vegas.

Summary: Puhakka goes into this fight as a heavy favourite due to being the better grappler of the two and having at least matching firepower on the feet. Garguier has slick leg locks on the ground but catching a seasoned veteran like Puhakka doesn’t sound very likely.

Niko Puhakka vs Ivica Truscek at Fight Festival 29

Sebastian Garguier vs Janne Tulirinta at Fight Festival 31

Catchweight 96 kg: Toni Valtonen (24-13) vs. Ilja Skondric (9-8), Slovakia: Finland’s Toni Valtonen is making a comeback after a surgery and gets the first challenge from Slovakia’s Ilja Skondric.

Toni Valtonen is one of the most experienced Nordic fighters with close forty professional MMA bouts under his belt. Valtonen used to fight at heavyweight but has fought the last few years as a light heavyweight. Valtonen is 6-4 in his last ten with notable wins over Sean Salmon, Aaron Stark and Attila Vegh who just won the Bellator  light heavyweight tournament.   During 2011 Valtonen suffered from a shoulder and bicep injury which lead to lackluster performances in his last two fights. Since then Valtonen has had surgery to fix the problem and can now train properly again. As a fighter Valtonen is nowdays pretty much a wrestler-boxer who has adequate striking skills and powerful takedowns.

Slovakian Ilja Skondric hails from the Octagon Fighting Academy that also serves as a home gym for highly regarded lightweight Ivan Buchinger and Bellator tournament winner Attila Vegh. Like his opponent Valtonen also Skondric has fought both as a heavyweight and a light heavyweight before. In the ring or cage Skondric is an aggressive brawler who tries to take his opponents head off with every single strike. This leads to him either getting a knock out or getting laid out himself in the progress. All but one of his career fights have ended to knock out.

Summary: Skondric packs dynamite in his hands, especially early in the fight, so it’s safe to assume that the Slovakian tries to go for the finish straight from the bell. Valtonen better stay alert for the first few minutes of the fights and slow down Skondric’s relentless attack with clinch work and takedowns. If the fight goes to later rounds, Valtonen should be able to take over with superior grappling.

Toni Valtonen Highlight

Ilja Skondric vs David Haagsma at Den Gladiatora 7


Third part of the Carelia Fight 8 Preview package will be published on Thursday 30th of August.