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10. J.P. Vainakainen
Finland's Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (18-5-1) claims the country's first spot on this year's report, sporting an impressive eight-fight unbeaten streak spanning only one year. In that lone year, Vainikainen submitted rising prospect Anthony Durnell in thirty-two seconds, bombed Iowan Ryan Bixler in two minutes and nineteen seconds, knocked out respectable American fighter Josh Pulsifer, and defeated UFC veterans Brian Geraghty and Steve Lopez by decision. Not bad for a fighter who had gone on a 2-3 skid in his previous five fights.
The 27-year-old's recent success can be attributed to the maturation of his technical skills, most notably his striking game. Sporting a six-foot frame in the lightweight division certainly helps his cause, but it's still difficult to find fighters with a good understanding of how a jab works. Vainikainen seems to have a handle on it, and he's moved to a much more pitter-patter method of barraging his opponents' defenses ala Nick Diaz. It's worked wonders in helping him secure his latest unbeaten streak.