Archive for March, 2011

Fitch out; Who should Penn fight?

March 30th, 2011
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According to multiple reports online, Jon Fitch has been forced to pull out of his July 2 fight against B.J. Penn at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Fitch apparently injured himself in training severely enough to withdraw from a fight that is still over 3 months away.

No replacement has been named as of yet to take Fitch’s place. Any ideas? Who would you like to see fight Penn in July? If Josh Koscheck was healthy, I think that’d be an intriguing fight at 170, but I’m not sure he’s fully recovered from that devastating eye injury suffered against Georges St-Pierre. If Nick Diaz beats Paul Daley on April 9 in StrikeForce and with the UFC’s recent purchase of the company, could we see Diaz vs. Penn?

Vitale’s last big chance

March 15th, 2011
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While B.J. Penn has done amazing things  promoting the state of Hawaii in his memorable UFC career, Niko Vitale has more than pulled his own weight.

Unlike Penn, who has only fought in Hawaii a couple of times, Vitale has been the staple of local MMA fights for a decade. From SuperBrawl to Icon Sport to X-1, Vitale has been the man more people have come out to see locally than anyone else. Over 20 times, he’s stepped into a ring or a cage in Hawaii to establish himself as one of the true local legends of the sport.

On Saturday night, Vitale added another win to his impressive resume, knocking out Dylan Clay in the first round of their X-1 main event fight in front of approximately 1,500 fans at the Blaisdell Arena. The big news came after the fight, when Vitale announced he would relinquish his 185-pound X-1 belt to give an opportunity to the younger up-and-coming fighters that aspire to be part of the next great wave of MMA fighters.

Don’t be fooled, Vitale isn’t going away forever.

Vitale has what likely will be his last chance at a run through major organizations, signing a two-fight deal with Bellator Fighting Championships. Vitale will face one of the best fighters not currently under the Zuffa banner in Hector Lombard. The fight will be shown on MTV in May.

I imagine before Vitale’s career is all said and done, he will fight at least one more time at the Blaisdell to give all the fans that have followed him a proper time and way to say goodbye. But as Vitale said after his knockout of Clay, he doesn’t feel he’s done yet, and beating a guy like Lombard would be the perfect statement that he’s ready for one final run against some of the best fighters in the world.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a fighter as nice and respectful as Vitale has been to me in the five or six years I’ve known him. Anytime you want an interview, he’ll talk, and he’ll answer every question you ask. If there’s anybody that deserves one last big run on the national stage, it’s Vitale, but to do it, he’s got to defeat Lombard, which will be an extremely tough task.

The fight is May 14 on MTV2. Don’t miss it.

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X-1 back at the Blaisdell

March 8th, 2011
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Ready for some mixed martial arts fights at the Blaisdell Arena?

Niko Vitale is back to main event the third installment of the X-1: Champions series as he defends the X-1 world middleweight title against 8-2 Dylan Clay, the organization’s welterweight champion, in one of four world title matches on the card. The event also features six state championship fights and an amateur bout and will be televised on Oceanic PPV Channel 260 in standard def and 1260 for the HD broadcast.

The full fight card is as follows:
Niko Vitale vs. Dylan Clay
Harris Sarmiento vs. Max Holloway
Ricky Wallace vs. Eben Kaneshiro
Russell Doane vs. Van Oscar Penovaroff
Sale Sproat vs. Collin Mansanas
Kurrent Cockett vs. Dustin Kimura
Jordan Kekino vs. Zane Kamaka
Nicole Johnson vs. Raquel Paaluhi
Puka Bell vs. Lolohea Mahe
Will Shutt vs. Steven Saito
Kala Koa vs. Paea Paogo

All four world title matches are intriguing, as is the fight between Mansanas and Sproat. Of all the up-and-coming fighters I’ve seen recently, Sproat is the one guy that blends a little of everything together so smoothly. I saw him fight in on the GalaxyMMA shows where he finished his opponent by strikes in roughly 2 minutes. Very excited to see how he’s progressed since then.

Whether you’re a hardcore or simply an occasional MMA fan, X-1 is the one organization trying to keep the sport alive on the big stage in Hawaii. Check out the fights Saturday night at the Blaisdell. Doors open at 6 and the first fight is set to go off at 7 p.m.