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Karppinen is excited to take this next step in his life. RE

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Heavy weightlifting would actually cause more problems than it solves for Karppinen. MMA fighting, like boxing, is broken down by weight class. Karppinen, who is normally in the 174-pound range when not fighting, has to reduce his weight to 155 pounds when he fights. Extra muscle weight makes dropping nearly 20 pounds a near-impossible task, so instead, he lifts with a different goal in mind.

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“It gives you a chance to prove you are better than someone else, in the deadliest way you can without killing them,” he said. “I am an ego guy. I like being the center of attention.

In Laude, Karppinen agreed to fight a guy who typically fights at a higher weight. The management team behind Saturday’s King of the Cage match gave him a choice: he could fight Laude, or he could wait to make his debut in the Detroit area in a month’s time. For Karppinen, the choice was an easy one: take the fight with Laude.

“It is usually 12 feet from cage to cage,” said Karppinen. “When you get into higher bouts like UFC, I think it is 20 feet from side to side.”

For Karppinen, the feeling of being inside cage one-on-one with the fighter across from him makes MMA intoxicating.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) cage fights are still a relatively young sport in terms of its current iteration. The sport actually has roots back to the times of Ancient Greece and Feudal Japan, but it thrust itself on the modern sports world in 1993 when Howard Rosenberg coined the term MMA in review of UFC 1.

After working to get himself into proper shape to fight by shoveling roofs and hitting the gym whenever possible, Karppinen is excited to take this next step in his life.

“Right now, there’s not too many people up here willing to do it,” said Karppinen. “So I don’t have any partners, no one who will box with me, no one who will grapple with me.

It was love at first sight for Karppinen, who saw his first MMA bout at the age of 16. He decided that was what he wanted to try to make a living doing.

“I just shadowbox, go over submissions in my head, work on the moves and just figure out how I would do it. I have a lot of training.”

Karppinen now cannot find sparring partners, making it even harder for him to properly train for bouts.

MMA is also by no means an easy sport to break into. It is even harder when you live in the Copper Country, where the number of people interested putting their body through the training and the punishment necessary to be successful spiked when UFC gained popularity in its early years, but has since dwindled off.

He decided to go ahead and take the matchup.

“It is half exhilarating and half super-nauseous feeling (getting into the ring). You build yourself up so much going into it. You have so many people hyped up for it, you really don’t want to let them down.”

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