Many times in life, we adventure and travel down the roads that were already blazed for us. We pick up where a legacy was left off and we often forget the struggles that came before we arrived on the scene. But UFC lightweight Anton Kuivanen has been there since the very beginning.

As the only UFC fighter to represent the country of Finland, Kuivanen takes great pride in making sure his homeland is represented in the right fashion.

“It’s a huge honor to represent Finland, the people, the MMA industry, my family and myself,” Kuivanen told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “I really hope a day will come soon where the UFC will travel and host an event in Finland. In April, it’s gonna be the second event in Sweden, and in Finland we can match everything. Alexander Gustafsson is a breakout fighter for his country and I hope to do the same for mine.”

Even with the recognition, the bright lights and the fame, Kuivanen still battles through the difficult lifestyle that every fighter must go through in their quest to greatness. Yet, it is a lifestyle that is more than worth it for the Finnish product.

“I won’t lie and say it’s easy. It sure is a lot of hard work, dedication, and it takes a lot of sacrifices. But it’s worth it when it’s time to gather the harvest. I think the hard aspect of it is what I love about it. I’m enjoying every minute of the ride,” admitted Kuivanen. “Nothing is too hard to overcome when you’re passionate about what you do. Nothing is too hard to overcome when you’re motivated about what you do. That’s what it takes to become what you want to be.”

Kuivanen will look to add to his win column when he meets former Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa at UFC 157 this Saturday evening in Anaheim, Calif. This will be Chiesa’s first Octagon appearance since defeating Al Iaquinta in June of last year.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this match-up. I think he’s a pretty good fighter, but I’m better in all the aspects of the game. I’m in great shape and I’ll recognize his weaknesses when I see one. I’m going to take advantage of it,” Kuivanen said. “I’m expecting nothing less than fireworks and a high-pace battle.

“I’ve done my homework and I know what he’s good at. I’m prepared for all the possible scenarios. That being said, my focus is mostly on what I’m going to do to break his will.

“I will be the first man to defeat Chiesa. No doubt about it. I’ll take whatever he gives me and since he probably won’t give me the win easily, I got some aces up my sleeve to surprise him.”

Photo: Anton Kuivanen celebrates victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)