Swedish featherweight Niklas Bäckström made one of the most memorable debuts of 2014 with an impressive victory over fellow prospect Tom Niinimaki at UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, Germany. Bäckström was the underdog for this fight after Niinimaki’s impressive UFC debut and the fact he stepped up on short notice, but almost finished Niinimaki with a choke before landing a flying knee and submitting his opponent in the first round.
Bäckström is now 8-0 (1 NC), and handed Niinimaki his first loss since 2006 and halted his 12 fight winning streak which included wins over Rani Yahya and Chase Beebe. The Swede is just 24 and has announced himself as one to watch in the featherweight division, looking surprisingly comfortable for a UFC debutant and submitting a tough opponent.
Here is how the fight went down.
Two big Scandanavian prospects in the featherweight division. Niinimaki was really impressive in his UFC debut, and fights the debuting Backstrom who replaces Thiago Tavares on short notice.
Round 1 – Leg kick from Bäckström, then a teep. Nice jab combination from Niinimaki, backing his opponent up almost immediately. Niinimaki works the takedown almost immediately, getting half guard before Bäckström regains guard. Half guard again. Great job by Bäckström getting back to his feet, but Niinimaki drags it to the ground once again and has the side back control. They’re up against the cage, a nice knee from Niinimaki who then level changes and attempts a double leg. Great job defensively by Backstrom so far, he’s really working Niinimaki’s flexibility in this position and lands some nice short shots. Niinimaki drags it to the ground but Bäckström still sitting up, and works his way up once again. Great job. He reverses the clinch and now has Niinimaki against the fence, each exchanging short knees. 2 minutes left in the opening round. Bäckström gets Niinimaki slipping, now he has a jumping guillotine! This looks tight! He’s in full guard! He really went for that but I think Niinimaki is going to work his way out. He was grimacing for a moment, but now he has popped his head out and has top control. He escapes then a huge knee from Bäckström! He has a headlock and Niinimaki taps! What an impressive win from the Swede, incredible performance and a great upset.
Result: Bäckström via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:15 in first round.
What. A. Debut. And what an interview, too. Niinimaki looked look a real prospect, but Bäckström simply outclassed him and got a great and entertaining finish.
Here are the results for the full card so far, check out our play-by-play of the full card here.
– Niklas Bäckström def. Tom Niinimaki via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:15 in first round.
– Nick Hein def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27).
– Magnus Cedenblad def. Krzysztof Jotko via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:59 in second round.
– Iuri Alcantara def. Vaughan Lee via TKO (strikes) at 0:25 in first round.
– Peter Sobotta def. Pawel Pawlak via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
– Maximo Blanco def. Andy Ogle via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
– Ruslan Magomedov def. Viktor Pesta via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).