There are very few well known MMA competitors in Europe, and even fewer in Finland. Upcoming Glory tournament winner Maiju Kujala wants the world to know that the Finnish fighters are always ready for a fight.
When Kujala hits the Strikeforce cage, she will have the added advantage of being in a similar style tournament recently. She punched her ticket into the Strikeforce 135 pound tournament in Phoenix Aug. 13 by winning the Upcoming Glory Grand Prix this past spring. She fought two matches in one night; fighting for nearly twenty minutes in a two hour span.
Kujala talked to Fightergirls on “Sportsgeeks” about her fighting in the States and facing some tough competitors in the tournament.
This won’t be Kujala first trip to the states. She had the opportunity to train at American Top Team in Florida in 2008, and expressed her interest in training in the states more often.
“The possibility to train with women and to develop yourself as a fighter is better in the States,” Kujala observed. “Everyone (at American Top Team) was so hospitable and friendly. I had some tough training over there. I enjoyed the whole trip.”
That doesn’t take away from her roots. A lot of her fellow country people see this as an opportunity to put Finnish MMA on the map.
“Some guys are saying this is really cool,” Kujala said. “They are supporting me and encouraging me all the way. We have had only on fighter in the states in the whole history of MMA in Finland at UFC 13. It’s been a long time.”
“They are all saying not matter (if it’s) male or female, it’s a great step to fight in the states. It feels very nice for them to feel that way.”
The Strikeforce tournament will have an international flavor, as Kujala faces Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Carina Damm, Japanese submission fighter Hitomi Akano, and American world class grappler Miesha Tate. Maiju stated that she will be able to adapt to all of her competitors techniques and win the tournament.
“I am aware of the styles (the other competitors) present, and what style fighters they are. Of course it’s a little more challenging because the tournament (match-ups) are going to be at the weigh-ins.”
“I am some sort of strategy for all three fighters, but you don’t know which one (I’m) going to face. I have to say whoever my opponent is, I will be prepared.”
“It’s an amazing opportunity for to face a real challenge. Basically I view all my opponents in the same way. I never make the mistake of underestimating anyone, and treat them equally.”