UFC 149 commences with a potential "loser goes home" fight in the lightweight division, as Alberta's own Mitch Clarke (9-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Finland's Anton Kuivanen (16-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) face off in the curtain raiser at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Neither man is ranked in the USA Today/MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings. This fight is scheduled to air on the Facebook portion of the preliminary card, which starts at approximately 6:40 PM ET/3:40 PM PT.
This is expected to be a predominantly grappling contest, with Clarke posting 6 of his 9 victories via submission, and Kuivanen winning 8 of his 16 the same way. They were both signed as prospects who rattled off long winning streaks in the regional circuit, but found little success in their UFC debuts. Now Clarke and Kuivanen are desperate for their first UFC win.
How do these two stack up?
Clarke: 26 years old | 5'10" | 73' reach
Kuivanen: 28 years old | 5'9" | 72' reach
How did these two get here?
Mitch Clarke started his MMA career in May 2007, submitting Jase Nibourg in Saskatchewan (he would later TKO Nibourg months later in his 2nd fight). Clarke won his first 9 professional bouts, with his last 8 all taking place in Alberta. He was signed by the UFC in August, and fought John Cholish on the preliminary card of UFC 140 in Toronto, but had his back taken late in the 2nd round and was pounded out for the TKO stoppage. Clarke trains out of Edmonton's Hayabusa Training Centre, where UFC light-heavyweight Ryan Jimmo also trains.
Anton Kuivanen is just the 2nd Finnish fighter in UFC history (the other is the late Tony Halme). His MMA career spans six years, fighting primarily in Finland and the Baltic region. At the end of 2008 his record stood a so-so 7-4, with a submission loss to former WEC lightweight Bendy Casimir. Kuivanen then went on a 9 fight winning streak, winning a Finnish regional championship. He was added to the UFC roster in January 2012, and fought fellow debutant Justin Salas at UFC on FUEL 1 in February, where he lost in a fairly uneventful unanimous decision. Kuivanen trains in Helsinki's GB Gym, but he's also held training camps Stateside with American Top Team.
Why should you care?
Honestly, neither man looked impressive or exciting in their debuts, but it's common for fighters with their jobs on the line to bring some excitement to at least earn a 3rd chance if they lose. This could be one of those fights.
More UFC 149 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.