2012 World MMA Scouting Report - Lightweights

Check out the Kickoff Thread for everything you need to know about the World MMA Scouting Report. Follow us on twitter at @smoogymma ,@lelandroling and @bloodyelbow for more updates. As always, fight videos and highlights are included in the profile:

10. J.P. Vainakainen



Name: 22px-flag_of_finland Juha-Pekka Vainikainen
Nickname: --
Age: 27
Height: 6'0"
Location: Espoo, Finland

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.


  1. Jordan Rinaldi


    Name: 22px-flag_of_the_united_states Jordan Rinaldi
    Nickname: --
    Age: 24
    Height: 5'10"
    Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

    The Carolinas aren't known for producing top-tier mixed martial arts talent at a blistering pace. Over the years, fighters such as UFC veteran Rodney Wallace, Strikeforce veteran Tim Kennedy, and women's 135 lb. fighter Tara Larosa have emerged from the region as quality fighters worthy of stints in the major leagues of MMA. It's our hopes that we can help add another name to that list in the future.

    Team R.O.C.'s Jordan Rinaldi (5-0) may be the man to bring prominence to North Carolina once again. The 24-year-old lightweight has impressed in his five-fight professional career so far, finishing off four of his five opponents and remaining undefeated over the last year-and-a-half. As an amateur, Rinaldi amassed as 5-1 record, finishing four of his five wins inside the opening frame.

    While his record is respectable on the surface, it takes some digging to find the awe in what he's accomplished so far. In his fourth professional appearance, Rinaldi submitted The Ultimate Fighter 14's Dennis Bermudez (7-3) in only two minutes and thirteen seconds. He was scheduled to face fellow prospect Dakota Cochrane (11-2) after the win, but the fight fell through. In its place, Rinaldi accepted a bout with Tenyeh Dixon on five days notice at welterweight. At fight time, Dixon outweighed Rinaldi by roughly twenty to twenty-five pounds.

  1. Anton Kuivanen


    Name: 22px-flag_of_finland Anton Kuivanen
    Nickname: --
    Age: 27
    Height: 6'0"
    Location: Helsinki, Finland

    The 27-year-old is currently riding a nine-fight win streak since losing to WEC veteran Bendy Casimir in October of ‘08 by kneebar. Since that loss, Kuivanen has dominated his competition, beating notable veterans Tim Radcliffe, Ivan Buchinger, and Ryan Bixler in a run spanning three years. His most recent bout against Thiago Meller might be the most impressive of his eight wins, defeating the heralded Brazilian prospect by unanimous decision in an exciting affair at Cage 16 in October.

    In that match-up, Kuivanen showcased all of the talents that have brought him to where he stands today. A striker at heart, Kuivanen also possesses developed skills in the other areas of his game. He's a solid grappler who has the technical know-how to work effectively off his back. He has above average takedown defense, good conditioning, and a physically superior frame that has helped him in tight spots in past bouts.

    As aforementioned, Kuivanen's fighting style is deeply focused on his striking, and he's showcased more diversity in recent bouts. Specifically, Kuivanen has added various kicks to his arsenal, notably a front kick. Mixing in those techniques with good footwork and a solid straight-overhand combination have made Kuivanen far more threatening and unpredictable.

  1. Zorobabel Moreira


    Name: 22px-flag_of_brazil Zorobabel Moreira
    Nickname: Zoro
    Age: 28
    Height: 6'3"
    Location: Singapore
    The popularity of mixed martial arts and its global reach has created a high demand for Brazil's best grappling talent. The most successful training camps in the world house highly-qualified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters, instilling their knowledge on teammates to help them become better fighters. From the United States to Germany to the United Kingdom, these masters of the submission are the knowledge bases needed to improve the sport no matter what corner of the world it's being practiced.

    One of Brazil's most credentialed exports is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Zorobabel Moreira (5-1). The 28-year-old expert grappler turned mixed martial artist left Brazil in late 2009 for a better life in Singapore, training and teaching at Evolve MMA. Today, Evolve is one of the top camps in Asia, filling a gap that Asia needed desperately -- a one-stop shop for quality mixed martial arts training. Moreira is one of the key assets responsible for helping Evolve reach supreme status.

    Moreira isn't just a teacher. He's also a student, utilizing the camp's stacked core of world-class Muay Thai teachers to improve his striking. Under the watchful eye of the legendary Sityodtong family, Moreira has unlocked his potential, unearthing a brutalizing clinch game and a versatile distance striking arsenal that gets better with every bout.

Anton needs to sign with the UFC for that card in Sweden.

Also Rinaldi is trying out for TUF, hopefully he makes it on TUF 15, I dont see why he wouldnt.

he would be a good prospect for TUF and one that could do very well.

  1. Eduard Folayang


    Photo by Anton Tabuena

    Name: 22px-flag_of_the_philippines Eduard Folayang
    Nickname: Landslide
    Age: 27
    Height: 5'9"
    Location: Baguio City, Philippines

    For the last few years, the Philippines has been consistently muttered by Zuffa officials as an eventual international destination for the UFC. It makes perfect sense considering its significance in boxing's history and the love affair its people have with combat sports. Whether the expansion happens today or tomorrow, it's inevitable that the Octagon finds its way to Manila in the future.

    When that day comes, Wushu expert Eduard Folayang (10-1) may be one of the select few Filipino-born fighters to grab the spotlight. The 27-year-old lightweight has amassed a 10-1 record in eleven professional bouts with six of his wins coming by way of submission or knockout. He burst onto the scene in June of 2007, quickly earning five wins under the URCC banner in a three-year span before taking bouts with Singapore-based promotion Martial Combat.

    Folayang is a product of Team Lakay, a Filipino-based camp that also houses prospects Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario. Primarily a striker, Folayang has also improved his skills on the ground, specifically from top control. He possesses excellent conditioning, a diverse stand-up game that stems from his Wushu roots, and threatening ground and pound on the floor.


  1. Neilson Gomes


    Photo by Marcelo Alonso, Sherdog

    Name: 22px-flag_of_brazil Neilson Gomes
    Nickname: --
    Age: 24
    Height: 5'10"
    Location: Paulo Alfonso, Bahia, Brazil

    Within the confines of the lightweight division, Champion Team's Neilson Gomes (13-2) is one of the young fighters who has benefited greatly from everything Brazil has to offer. A seasoned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter who possesses a threatening top control game and brutal ground and pound skills, he also boasts a diverse striking game.

    The 24-year-old had accumulated eleven straight wins over the course of the last two years until getting stopped cold by fellow prospect Adriano Martins at Jungle Fight 34 on November 26. Despite the setback, it's difficult to dismiss Gomes' previous eleven-fight winning streak. During the run, which spanned over three years, Gomes bested notables Julio Cesar de Almeida (15-6), Jadson Souza Costa (11-3), Ciro Rodrigues (10-4), and Silmar Nunes (14-5), giving him one of the strongest strengths of record among our lightweight prospects.

    Gomes' versatility has been the key to his success. Threatening from top control with damaging ground and pound or endangering his opponents with savvy submission skills, Gomes has proven he isn't to be taken lightly. He's also adept at standing toe-to-toe with his opposition, showcasing a variety of kicking attacks and combinations that keeps his opponents guessing.




TTT for the good stuff

  1. Justin Salas


    Photo by Isaac Hinds, Sherdog

    Name: 22px-flag_of_the_united_states Justin Salas
    Nickname: --
    Age: 29
    Height: 5'8"
    Location: Wheat Ridge, Colorado

    Salas has since recorded nine wins, his latest being an upset decision win over skilled wrestler Joe Ellenberger, the brother of UFC fighter Jake Ellenberger, at Victory Fighting Championships 36 in October. The victory was preceded by an unanimous decision over UFC veteran Rob Emerson nine months prior, making 2011 the best year of his five-year professional career.

    Salas' success is rooted in his wrestling skills. He specializes in ripping opponents off the cage with single and double leg takedowns from the clinch, and he's proficient in producing offense by way of strikes or submissions on the ground.

    On the feet, Salas is no slouch, utilizing a southpaw stance and possessing the know-how to throw basic combinations. He isn't an advanced striker by any means, but his striking is good enough to compliment his grappling skills.


    Thanks NFH. Hopefully the scouting report magic helps Kuivanen and JP where it has utterly failed Tom Niinimaki

Niinimäki is fighting in the main event of Cage 18 on 3rd of March in his hometown of Turku, Finland. His opponent is booked but not published yet.
Niinimäki's team mate LHW prospect Juha Saarinen (7-1) will be in the co-main event.

Nice, hopefully it's someone who can last for a few minutes at least

  1. Adriano Martins


    Name: 22px-flag_of_brazil Adriano Martins
    Nickname: --
    Age: 29
    Height: 5'10"
    Location: Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil

    Adriano Martins (20-6) may not appear to fit the established profile of young, emergent prospects set thus far in the 2012 World MMA Scouting Report. At 29, he is a late bloomer to say the least. If you've heard of him, it's because he fought and lost in the opening round of the 2008 DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix. A drop to the lightweight division and a growing belt collection, however, have Martins poised to finally make the jump to North America as a fresh face almost eight years into his pro career.

    After the 2008 tournament loss to Sengoku Welterweight Champion Keita Nakamura (21-5-2) at 183 lbs., Martins briefly went back to welterweight, but opted to try his luck as one of the largest lightweights on the Brazilian circuit instead. At 155 lbs., Adriano has found consistent success, winning nine out of ten bouts since 2010 against some of his toughest peers on the Brazilian circuit.

    During his hot streak, he has avenged previous career losses to Jamil Silveira (32-14) and UFC veteran Ronys Torres (23-4). The lone blemish was a three-round decision defeat at the hands of Francisco Drinaldo (10-1) in a challenge for the Jungle Fight lightweight championship, but Martins rebounded in his next match, beating Diego Braga (17-8-1) to claim the Win Fight & Entertainment title. Most recently, Martins returned to Jungle Fight to vie for the interim lightweight strap in lieu of Drinaldo, this time making short work of Bahia's Neilson Gomes (13-2) in the opening round.




 damn how did I miss this

ttt, can't wait for #2 AND #1 Leland has said they are absolutely monsters.

In for the rest Phone Post

Yeah, I don't mean to presume the knowledge level of the report readers since they're usually very up on the world MMA scene, but you might be surprised by the top two at 155. #2 will be up in half an hour

  1. Alessandro Ferreira


    Photo by Marcelo Alonso, Sherdog

    Name: 22px-flag_of_brazil Alessandro Ferreira
    Nickname: Zoio
    Age: 25
    Height: 5'9"
    Location: California

    If you have ever tried to follow the Brazilian MMA circuit, you know it can be chaotic. The vast, disparate patchwork of professional events play host to a rogue's gallery of local toughs, fiery young UFC hopefuls and veterans who have achieved "grizzled" status in their 20's. Sao Paulo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Alessandro Ferreira (10-1, 1 NC) is an eclectic mix of all three.

    Beginning as a professional in 2006, "Zoio" won multiple one-night, eight-man tournaments early in his career before being called up in 2010 to televised promotions Jungle Fight and Predador Fighting Championship. His run to the top in those events was derailed, however, by another chaotic force in Brazil: the officiating. A routine guard slam against Johil de Oliveira at Jungle Fight 22 was somehow ruled an illegal spike worthy of declaring the fight a no-contest, much to the crowd's derision. If that weren't enough, Ferreira was robbed blind at Predador 16, dropping a decision to Team Nogueira prospect Roberto Amorim after appearing to win all three rounds comfortably.

    Bad luck aside, Alessandro has been virtually unstoppable. His superlative submission skills can end a fight quicky, but Zoio is dangerous anywhere. Huge slams and buckling low kicks litter his highlight reel, and he has the savvy to string together dazzling combinations of technique. Most recently he shocked 2011's #1 lightweight selection Thiago Michel by chopping Michel's lead leg out with an inside low kick, then taking his back as he fell in one fluid motion. The pro-Michel crowd had no time to rally before their champion was tapping to a rear naked choke.



          #1 - ???
    #2 - Alessandro Ferreira
    #3 - Adriano Martins
    #4 - Justin Salas
    #5 - Neilson Gomes
    #6 - Eduard Folayang
    #7 - Zorobabel Moreira
    #8 - Anton Kuivanen
    #9 - Jordan Rinaldi
    #10 - J.P. Vainikainen


Zoio is coaching at Team Cesar Gracie and Gilbert Melendez's gym in San Francisco. If anyone can tell me his age that would be much appreciated