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Who is Toni Valtonen and what was the controversy surrounding the MMA fighter's tattoo?

Finnish MMA fighter, Toni Valtonen. (Valtonen
Finnish MMA fighter, Toni Valtonen. (Valtonen's image credit: 'Megdan Fight' channel on YouTube)
ANALYST
Modified 25 Feb 2021
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Toni Valtonen is a Finnish mixed martial artist, who is based out of Finland's capital city, Helsinki. The 42-year-old has competed in multiple European MMA promotions, however, he is best known for his stint in Russia's M-1 Global.

Back in 2009, Valtonen was the subject of a major controversy after the tape he had worn over his tattoos detached in the middle of his fight, which was being broadcast on HDNet channel in the United States.

It was later revealed that Valtonen's right shoulder had a tattoo of a swastika - the principal symbol of the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler. According to FanHouse (later, MMA Fighting), when they asked M-1 Global for an explanation, the promotion distanced itself from Toni Valtonen's views and released a statement that read:

"M-1 does not allow Mr. Valtonen to fight with any of these tattoos exposed. Before each of Mr. Valtonen's fights, there are patches placed over his tattoos. M-1 regrets the fact that there were still tattoos shown when the patches got loose in the fight. By this statement, M-1 wants to state that we do NOT in any way support the views of any individual in particular."

M-1 Global had a stipulation that forced Toni Valtonen to wear a patch above the swastika tattoo. The Russian promotion also said they would release Valtonen should he choose to fight without hiding his tattoos.

While speaking to ESPN, Valtonen later explained the tattoos on his shoulder.

"I had a crazy and rebellious youth, I made some faults in my past and I am not proud of these marks. I regret that I ever had these tattoos made. Nowadays, I am a dedicated family man and professional athlete, and I am not involved in any politics whatsoever," said Toni Valtonen in a statement.

Since the incident, Valtonen decided to hide his tattoos in his fights. The Finnish slugger has also chosen not to fight shirtless, which would have exposed his tattoos.

Toni Valtonen went on to compete in KSW (Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki), and other European MMA promotions before eventually returning to M-1 Global after an eight-year gap. The 42-year-old last fought Dawid Zoltaszek at Babilon MMA 17 in October last year and won the bout via TKO in the second round.

Jan Blachowicz defeated Toni Valtonen in 2011

Current UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz locked horns with Toni Valtonen in 2011 at KSW 16. Blachowicz, who was 29 back then, got the better of Valtonen in a dominant performance after he submitted his Finnish opponent in the second round of the fight.

Blachowicz is set to defend his light heavyweight title against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 on March 6, 2021.

Published 25 Feb 2021
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