MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Condit, Trigg to mix it up in Rumble 9
It took just 17 seconds for Carlos Condit to prove rankings don't mean a thing in mixed martial arts.
Condit (14-2), of Albuquerque, N.M., shocked Hawaii fight fans last January by knocking out local fighter Renato "Charuto" Verissimo, ranked fifth in the world, with a devastating knee in the first round of the ROTR Welterweight Grand Prix in January.
Tomorrow night, Condit looks to pull off an even bigger upset as he takes on Frank "twinkle toes" Trigg (13-4) in one semifinal of Rumble on the Rock 9 at Blaisdell Arena.
The other semifinal features Japan's Yushin Okami (14-2) against American Jake Shields (12-4-1). The winners then square off in the main event. The winner is crowned the ROTR welterweight champion.
"I've wanted a chance to get a title for a long time; it has always kind of eluded me," Condit said. "To have a chance to get this title, I'm overwhelmed."
Condit's career has taken off in the last six months, as he has started to fight tougher competition. In addition to the victory over Verissimo, Condit beat UFC veteran Pete Spratt in a special K-1 rules (kickboxing) fight back in December. While mixed martial arts tests all aspects of fighting, Condit seems to be at his best when standing, and plans on keeping the fight with Trigg on his feet.
"I'm excited to get in there and mix it up with him. He's tough," Condit said. "I feel like I have the advantage standing and I plan on doing to him pretty similar to what I did to Charuto. I'm going for the knockout."
To win the tournament, Condit would have to beat two guys in the same night, something he has never attempted to do before. But because he trains in the high altitude of Albuquerque, he feels coming to Hawaii and fighting at sea-level gives him an advantage.
"Coming down here I can just go and go and go," Condit said. "If it's a long fight and I have to go all-out then turn it around and do it again, I will, but I plan on ending the fight early."
While fans are just beginning to take notice of Condit, his opponent needs no introduction to the mixed-martial arts-world. Trigg is one of the most recognizable names in the sport. Not only has he headlined UFC pay-per-views and faced the top fighters in the world at 175 pounds, he now finds himself as a color commentator for the PRIDE Fighting Championships. The Japanese organization recently signed a deal to be shown on Fox Sports Net in the USA, creating a new arena of exposure for Trigg.
"It's funny, because I'm recognized a lot more as a person now instead of a fighter," Trigg said. "Before it was like 'Hey what are you going to do to this guy, what are you going to do that guy,' and now it's, 'What did you think of this fight, what do you think of that fight?' so this broadcasting thing has really helped me take off."
Despite all the accomplishments outside of the cage, Trigg returns to Hawaii for one reason only, and that's to reestablish himself as one of the best fighters in the world at 175 pounds.
"I'm always the favorite in my mind, and the only pressure I feel is the internal pressure I put on myself to compete as much as I can and get better," Trigg said. "All my fights end early and violently, and that's all I can say right now about (tomorrow) night."
The event will also feature a special five-fight Team Hawaii vs. Team Japan series. Representing Hawaii are Verissimo, Ray "Braddah" Cooper, Brendon Wolf, Scott Junk, and Wesley "Cabbage" Correira, while Team Japan features Sotoyama Shinpei, Koji Yoshida, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Hideki Tadao and Kazuhiro Hamanaka.
The lone superfight of the night showcases the return of Eric "Butterbean" Esch to the cage. Fresh off his TKO victory over Correira three months ago, Esch fights former World Wrestling Entertainment star Aaron "HardKore Kidd" Aguilera.
Tickets ranging from $35-$300 are still on sale and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and a preliminary bout between Steve Byrnes and Matt Knaub starts the card at 7:30 p.m.
RUMBLE ON THE ROCK 9
Tomorrow, at Blaisdell Arena
ROTR welterweight Grand Prix semifinals (final follows)
Carlos Condit (14-2) vs. Frank Trigg (13-4)
Yushin Okami (14-2) vs. Jake Shields (12-4-1)
Alternate tournament fight
Brandon Wolfe vs. Josh Macdonald
Eric "Butterbean" Esch vs. Aaron "HardKore Kidd" Aguilera
Team Hawaii vs. Team Japan
Brendon Wolf vs. Sotoyama Shinpei
Ray "Braddah" Cooper vs. Koji Yoshida
Renato "Charuto" Verissimo vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka
Scott Junk vs. Hideki Tadao
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira vs. Kazuhiro Hamanaka
Steve Byrnes vs. Matt Knaub