So much MMA related news to talk about, I don’t even know where to begin.
First, in case anyone missed it, X-1 got a good crowd (3,000+) packed into War Memorial Stadium for its event last week. Unfortunately, it didn’t get a Niko Vitale main event. His opponent, Jon Kirk, who accepted the fight on short notice after Shannon Ritch backed out, never made it on his flight out to Hawaii. Instead, Maui fans were treated to a main event between heavyweight Scott Junk and Lolohea Mahe. The bout ended in a draw, setting up a possible rematch later this year on Oahu.
We’ve got local boys fighting all over the world this weekend. At UFC 96, Hilo’s Shane Nelson and Maui’s Kendall Grove are both in action. Both are underdogs according to Las Vegas odds as Nelson fights Aaron Riley and Grove takes on Jason Day. Not to make things any easier on Grove, UFC President Dana White came out this week and said Grove could be the first TUF champion to be released by the company if he loses to Day. Kind of surprising considering Grove’s last fight was a victory over Evan Tanner, who was a former UFC middleweight champion.
With Mandaloniz recently being cut after suffering his first UFC loss and now Grove possibly on the verge of the same fate, you have to wonder if this has anything to do with the relationship between White and B.J. Penn.
Speaking of Penn, he will be back on Oahu for an autograph session at Nordstrom’s in Ala Moana on March 14 from 12-2 p.m. Also, UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will be joined by Grove, Egan Inoue and others for a meet-and-greet session at Windward Mall on March 21 from 1-4 p.m.
In case you haven’t heard, the debut show for KINGDOM MMA, featuring Jason “Mayhem” Miller against Kala Kolohe Hose, has been pushed back to April 18 after a mix-up in paperwork. We’ll have more on this on the blog for sure, but one of the big hangups was the DCCA’s new rule that all fighters competing in Hawaii must be medically cleared by a doctor in Hawaii. Imagine if that was the case in Germany for this week’s UFC 96 and the company had to fly everyone all the way to Germany a month before the event just for medicals, fly them back, and then do the same again a month later. Makes zero sense to me.
And finally, DREAM 7 in Japan this weekend features a fight between Hilo’s Ross Ebanez and Tatsuya Kawajiri, considered by many a top-10 lightweight fighter in the world. You won’t be able to see the fight in USA until next Friday on HDNet, but this is a huge opportunity for Ebanez. I remember watching him fight Eddie Alvarez in a ShoXC main event over a year ago and have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Ebanez. If he can beat Kawajiri in Japan, it’ll set him up for a quite a few nice paydays overseas, so good luck to Ross.