X-1: Legends is here

May 15th, 2008

The beginning of the biggest summer of MMA in Hawaii is upon us. X-1 kicks off a crazy four-month period of fights with “Legends” Friday night at the Blaisdell Arena.

The fight card has seen its share of changes, but as of today, the eight bouts for the first Oceanic PPV televised event in Hawaii are:

Main Event
Egan Inoue vs. Hans Marrero
Welterweight title fight
Chad Reiner (champion) vs. Brandon Wolff
Lightweight title fight
Ray “Braddah” Cooper vs. Richie Whitson
Kolo Koka vs. Michael Brightmon
Ronald Jhun vs. Dylan Clay
Flyweight title fight
Kana Hyatt (champion) vs. Albert Manners
Brandon Visher vs. Lorenzo Moreno
John Vistante vs. Sean Sakata

Of course, the big news heading into the fight is the sudden change in the lightweight title fight. Hilo’s Shane Nelson, who was the champion a week ago, pulled out of the fight on Friday and surrendered his title. No official word was given on why, but rumors circulate that he may have been offered a chance to compete on the Ultimate Fighter reality show. Now I’m not sure how that would affect his status for fighting Friday night, and as with guys like BJ Penn and Kendall Grove in the past, guys asked to be on the show can’t say a word about it without possibly losing their spot on the show, so nothing is official, but if that is the case, it’s an opportunity Nelson couldn’t pass up. I know a lot of people are upset at the timeliness of him pulling out, as Nelson/Cooper was one of the biggest fights on the card, but I think we should all reserve comment until we find out the exact reason for Nelson’s absence.

I had a chance to talk to Nelson’s replacement, Richie Whitson, who seemed a little overwhelmed at all the media attention at Wednesday’s press conference. He’s 3-0 and just got done beating a guy in Canada last Wednesday, but is in good health and great shape for Friday. He likes to stand and be aggressive, so this could be a sleeper fight. Cooper may still have his work cut out for him, although he will clearly be a heavy favorite.

We will have more on the card in tomorrow’s Star Bulletin, with photos and a closer look at Ray Cooper as the 34-year-old father of six returns to the ring for the first time in over two years.

Until then, feel free to share your thoughts. What fight could steal the show? Is Egan in over his head returning at 42-years-old? What about Koka vs. Brightmon and Jhun vs. undefeated Dylan Clay? Should be a fun night. Hope to see you there.

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