World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report: #6 - Tom Niinimaki

At #6 on the 2011 World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report, former Finnish lightweight fighter Tom Niinimaki (15-5-1) chimes in on our countdown. Once considered a mediocre 155 pounder who couldn't cut it against the submission prowess of Hatsu Hioki and Tristan Yunker, Niinimaki turned his back to active competition after defeating Bogdan Cristea in August of 2007. He returned at the beginning of 2010, ten pounds lighter, showing off an impressive top control game and powerful physique that has enabled him to dominate the landscape of the 145 pound weight class in Finland. The 27-year-old's newfound success could have the UFC knocking at his door if the promotion intends to break into the region in 2011.

Offensive Skills: Niinimaki is one of the most well-rounded fighters on our countdown. He's currently ranked in the top ten in the Finnish amateur boxing circuit. He won the FILA Combat Grappling European Championship crown, and he's competed admirably in various ADCC European events as well. While his stand-up game has a solid foundation and proven effectiveness in the cage, Niinimaki's grappling prowess in combination with his physically overpowering strength is his greatest asset offensively. With the exception of Sergej Grecicho, Niinimaki has kept himself relatively safe on the ground by overwhelming his opponents with strikes from top control or superior grappling acumen.

Defensive Skills: Niinimaki's continued focus on boxing has tightened up his defense in the stand-up game significantly. He keeps his hands high, uses speedy footwork to evade incoming rushes, and keeps himself in position to quickly counter when the opportunity arises. He's definitely on par with some of the better strikers in the division in terms of protecting himself.

Niinimaki's takedown defense isn't as technically sound as some of the better fighters in the UFC, but he makes up for some of those flaws with his overwhelming strength. As a former lightweight fighter, it's obvious that he's physically bulkier than most natural 145 pound fighters, and the added strength that comes with that has allowed him to blast through submission holds with ease.

Progression: Tom has progressed in both his stand-up and ground game since his career at lightweight ended. He's become a much more proficient grappler, and he's taken the time to hone his boxing skills as well. Adding more technique to both areas along with cutting down to 145 pounds has made him a very dangerous opponent for anyone in the region.

Environment: Interestingly enough, Tom is not a full-time mixed martial arts fighter yet. He currently trains out of Finnfightersgym in his hometown of Turku while also training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing during the week. He is a long-time training partner and friend to Joachim Hansen.

Potential: Niinimaki's success at featherweight isn't completely proven just yet. While he has proven that he has the physical attributes and well-rounded skills to compete against veteran competition in the division, he'll need to step up to the plate and fight some of those better tests in the future. From all indications however, Niinimaki should prevail and prove he's one of the more promising fighters to keep an eye on in the region. If the UFC is serious about expanding into Sweden for a future UFC event, Niinimaki should be on their radar.

Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
#6 - Tom Niinimaki
#7 - Marcos Vinicius
#8 - Matt Fiordirosa
#9 - Isaac DeJesus
#10 - Michel Gagnon
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray

Middleweight Light Heavyweight
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie
#1 - Marcos Pezao
#2 - Gian Villante
#3 - Jimi Manuwa
#4 - Glover Teixeira
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Scouting_report_medium

Video:

Tom Niinimaki vs. Lautaro Arborelo
Tom Niinimaki vs. Ben Boekee
Tom Niinimaki vs. Sergej Grecicho

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