Finland's Anton Kuivanen makes his UFC debut next month - Photo by email@example.com
This Friday's UFC on FX card in Nashville is now up there on the list of the most injury-plagued UFC cards, with no fewer than five fighters pulling out of fights and forcing Joe Silva and Sean Shelby to scramble and find replacement opponents. The most recent (and hopefully) final change comes just four days before the event with Sweden's Reza Madadi pulling out his fight against Fabricio Camoes, who was a replacement himself for Rafaello Oliveira. Stepping in for Madadi in the lightweight affair against Camoes will be UFC newcomer, Tommy Hayden. The UFC tweeted the news today:
Undefeated Tommy Hayden in for Mad Dag against Fabricio Camoes Friday on FX
Hayden is a student of Jorge Gurgel, under whom he holds a blue belt in BJJ. Undefeated at 8-0, the Indianapolis native has five submission wins to his credit, including a victory over TUF 14 competitor, Dustin Neace. Hayden hasn't fought since May when he choked out Harry Johnson at a regional event in Tennnessee.
Fortunately, there's some good news in the lightweight division to balance out yet another fighter injury: two talented prospects, both ranked in Bloody Elbow's 2012 World Scouting Report, have been signed by the UFC and will face off next month in Omaha at UFC on Fuel 1. UFC.com reports the news:
Two lightweights will get their chance in the UFC's toughest division as they make their debuts next month. Anton Kuivanen will fight Justin Salas at the February 15 FUEL TV event in Omaha. The Finnish Kuivanen has finished half of his 16 wins by submission and is currently on a 9-fight win streak. He'll look to make it ten against Colorado's 9-3 Salas.
Many European fans were disappointed when Finland's Kuivanen, ranked as the #8 prospect on the scouting report, wasn't included on the UFC's April card in Sweden, but he'll still get his shot in the Octagon after all. Kuivanen has won nine straight fights since 2008, and his most recent win was perhaps his most impressive: a unanimous decision over highly-regarded Brazilian prospect, Thiago Meller on an October card in Finland. The Helsinki native has also traveled widely to improve his training, spending a good deal of time in the U.S. at American Top Team which has improved his ground game dramatically to complement his kickboxing background.
Salas was the #4 lightweight prospect on this year's scouting report, and he trains with a whole host of talented UFC veterans at Trevor Wittman's Grudge Training Center in Colorado, including: Duane Ludwig, Brendan Schaub, Shane Carwin, and Nate Marquardt. Salas's speciality in wrestling, and he's used it quite effectively against talented opponents like Joe Ellenberger (brother of Jake, and undefeated before facing Salas) and UFC veteran, Rob Emerson. Like Kuivanen, Salas enters the UFC on a solid winning steak with five consecutive victories including the recent decision win over Ellenberger in October.