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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Finnish featherweight Tom Niinimaki is one of the latest additions to the Blackzilians camp in South Florida, and on Friday night in Kansas he's taking his next step towards earning a spot in the UFC.
Taking on Brian Pearman on the undercard of HDNet's broadcast of "Titan Fighting Championships 23: Fight for the Troops," Niinimaki looks to win his eighth straight fight in just his second bout in the U.S. The 10-year veteran of the sport has fought around the world, and now he hopes to make his mark in North America.
"Basically it was Glenn [Robinson] from Authentic Sports Management who asked if I wanted to come to train and to fight [with the Blackzilians], and I said 'yes, of course'" Niinimaki told MMATorch on Friday morning. Though he's fighting on a smaller card on Friday night, like most fighters he wants to make it to the big show with the UFC.
"Yeah, of course, of course. I want to win fights and the ultimate goal is to get into the big leagues, the UFC," he said. "[I want to] get some more challenges. I think [my experience helps]. [I've had] lots of fights, lots of hard, tough fights, so I think that is my advantage."
First up is picking up a win over Pearman on Friday night. Niinimaki has been in the cage with several known names, including current top ranked featherweight Hatsu Hioki and UFC vet Per Eklund, and Pearman represents a tough opponent, even if he's a bit unknown to Niinimaki.
"I haven't seen any fights [of his], so I don't know much [about him]," Niinimaki admitted. "But I believe he's a good all around fighter who's got a big heart. He knows how to fight."
Pearman is a 7-1 fighter whose last bout saw him hand Minnesota's Mike Richman his only career loss in a split decision in February 2011. Regardless of his familiarity, Niinimaki is simply looking to win this fight and keep himself busy until he gets a call from the UFC.
"Yes [I'm looking to fight more often]," he said. "I was supposed to fight last spring, but my opponent canceled, so I didn't fight. That's why the break has been so long. But I will fight now and as soon as possible again. I try to keep busy."
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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