By billy hull
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?