Archive for July, 2010

Different approaches

July 26th, 2010
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In the span of a little over a month, two mixed martial arts cards will be held at the Blaisdell Arena.

GalaxyMMA will follow up its debut event with a second showing on Aug. 6. Thirty-six days later, X-1 will put on its show Sept. 11, featuring a monster of a main event pitting Niko Vitale against Kala Kolohe Hose.

One look at these cards and you see a big difference between the two. Outside of the tournaments each organization is having, GalaxyMMA seems to be stressing a lot of local vs. mainland fights while X-1 is putting on three big local vs. local fights, with Ricky Wallace fighting Dave Moreno and Russell Doane against Bryson Hanson.

In terms of a promotional tactic, it’s interesting to contrast the two different ways of marketing a card. It’s clear by going local vs. local, you’ll have plenty of hometown support from both camps and a much better chance at bringing in more people to pay to watch the fight. You simply aren’t going to get much of a traveling crowd from the mainland to come see their guy fight, especially in these tough times.

But there is also something to be said about coming to see local fighters challenge themselves against mainland competition. It’s no secret that while Niko Vitale was a huge draw locally, the other big key allowing Icon Sport/SuperBrawl to sell out the Blaisdell was the emergence of Jason “Mayhem” Miller. People were hooked to see this skinny white kid continue to beat bigger and bigger local names, to the point that Mayhem eventually won the state over, and would get as loud of a cheer, sometimes louder, from the Hawaii crowd than his local opponent.

There’s no question that Vitale vs. Hose is the biggest fight in Hawaii in 2010. But how will people react? We know the environment the Blaisdell can be when a mainland kid comes in to fight one of Hawaii’s best. But will it be the same with Vitale vs. Hose? Will the Waianae/Waipahu crowds take sides? Or will it just be a well-respected fight between two local favorites, void of that “don’t let the mainland guy come in here and beat you” vibe we see all the time.

GalaxyMMA doesn’t have the name recognition of fighters like Hose and Vitale on its card. The organization itself doesn’t have the name value that X-1, which has been around for years, holds in the community. However, GalaxyMMA seems to be pretty set on drawing off this local vs. mainland vibe with a lot of its fights.

X-1 seems fairly content on pitting the best local fighters against each other.

So my question for anyone that goes to see these fights at the Blaisdell: Does the mainland vs. local vibe play into the excitement of going to these shows? Would you rather see the best local guys face each other to see who the best in Hawaii is?

Or does it even matter?

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Mahe loses in StrikeForce main event

July 23rd, 2010
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photo courtesy of Esther Lin/StrikeForce

Shane del Rosario remained undefeated in his mixed martial arts career with a TKO victory over Maui’s Lolohea Mahe in the main event of Friday night’s StrikeForce Challenger Series event in Everett, Wash.

The referee stopped the fight 3 minutes, 48 seconds into the first round after del Rosario (10-0) landed a vicious knee that badly hurt Mahe (4-2-1). del Rosario followed up with a knee to the body and Mahe immediately fell to the canvas covering up his head.

Mahe, who trains out of I & I Training Center in Maui with UFC fighter Kendall Grove, is 0-2 in StrikeForce, losing to Lavar Johnson in March.

He dedicated the bout to his friend and former trainer, Mike Smith, who died earlier this year.

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Vitale not fighting Aug. 14

July 20th, 2010
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photo by Bruce Asato, Star-Advertiser

Niko Vitale won’t have to worry about a quick turnaround heading into his Sept. 11 fight against Kala Kolohe Hose.

Contrary to numerous Internet reports, Vitale will not fight Thales Leites on Aug. 14 in Irvine, Calif. Vitale said a combination of things, including late notice about it being five rounds instead of the normal three, played a role in the decision not to compete.

Instead, he will have plenty of time to prepare for Hose in one of the first legit main event fights between two local fighters in Hawaii. The bout will headline X-1: Heroes, Sept. 11 at the Blaisdell Arena.

Both fighters are coming off injuries. Vitale hurt his knee defending the X-1 middleweight title against Kalib Starnes in March while Hose hasn’t competed since losing to Jason “Mayhem” Miller in April of 2009. Since then, he has suffered an elbow injury and had to deal with promotional problems trying to secure a fight on the mainland.

HERE IS my story in today’s Star-Advertiser. Columnist Dave Reardon also wrote about the two HERE.

Hose vs. Vitale

Is this the fight to put MMA in Hawaii back on the map?

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B.J. Penn: I don’t want this to be my last fight

July 15th, 2010
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photo courtesy Ultimate Fighting Championship

Give B.J. Penn credit. The former two-division UFC champion won’t make any excuses for his loss to heavy underdog Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi in April. Speaking to him earlier Thursday afternoon, I tried to get him to say something. I tried to get him to talk about whether he was hurt or sick at all. I asked about the conditions in an outdoor arena. I asked about overlooking the 8:1 underdog.

The closest thing I got to an excuse? “It’s not like I’m dying to go back (to Abu Dhabi) anytime soon…

“…but we had a great time there.”

After the second Matt Hughes fight, it was the rib injury. After the second Georges St-Pierre fight? Greasegate. After the Edgar fight? Nothing. Not even comment on the judges’ decision which most people would agree was sketchy at the very least. (Frankie Edgar did not win all five rounds of that fight as one judge scored it. Period.)

Penn accepted the decision, did his book tour, and quickly got back in the gym.

And that’s not good for Frankie Edgar.

When it comes to the rematch August 28, Penn’s got the same team with him. Troy Mandaloniz has come over from Maui to help him train in Hilo, and he’ll spend three weeks in Orange County at the RVCA gym beginning at the end of the month before leaving for Boston around August 18.

He finally watched the first fight within the last two weeks, and says he saw some things he plans on doing better

Would he share them? No. But he did say this:

“Without giving too much away, I really don’t think he’ll be able to compete with me come August 28th. I think we’re going to have too much for him. I think he’s going to have a false sense of security. He really doesn’t know who I am after the first fight. He’s going to be shocked when he finds out the real me.”

Motivation has always come into question with Penn, but not for this fight. He has a loss to avenge, he has a title to win back, but maybe the most important, he has a career that he doesn’t want to waste fighting second-tier lightweights in a climb back toward earning a shot.

“I want to do this for awhile,” Penn said. “I don’t want this to be my last fight. I want to stick around and fight the best and to do that, I have to win. I have to win on August 28th and I’m not even thinking about losing at all.”

You’ve heard it a million times. “This is the biggest fight of my career.” It might not be for Penn in terms of fanfare and anticipation, but if a future of big name fights in the UFC is what Penn wants, he must defeat Edgar for the title.

Or else, it’ll be a long climb back to the top. And at 31 years old, with a daughter who is about to celebrate her second birthday, with plenty of money-making ventures outside of the cage, who knows if it’s a climb “The Prodigy” will want to make.

Should Viloria retire?

July 12th, 2010
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Sure, this is a mixed martial arts blog, but as in the past, I reserve the right to get a little boxing in here too.

So lets talk Brian Viloria.

The former two-time world champion got back in the ring over the weekend, beating Mexico’s Omar Soto by split decision in his return to the 112-pound division. It was Viloria’s first fight since losing his IBF light flyweight (108 pound) title to Colombia’s Carlos Tamara in January.

Not only was it a tough loss, but Viloria collapsed in the locker room following the fight and had to be taken to the hospital. Nothing serious was wrong (it was blamed on severe exhaustion) but things COULD have been worse.

Viloria turns 30 later this year and is getting married in December. He has been an Olympian and had two different runs as a world champion.

By all accounts, the Viloria camp is happy with his performance against Soto, getting in a good, solid 10 rounds of action.

Fighters at lower weights tend to die out quicker and Viloria just finished his 30th professional fight.

He’s a smart guy and will have a lot going for him outside of the ring when he does decide to retire. He said he’s pumped up for another run and plans to get right back in the gym in hopes of fighting soon.

With all that said, what do you guys think? Should Brian Viloria go for a third world title or do you think it’s a good time for him to hang up the gloves? Boxing, more than any other sport, seems to be the toughest one for athletes to determine when the time is right to call it quits.

Is it time for Brian?