MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Vitale fights for success in ring and community
Niko Vitale is known for his fights inside the ring, but eventually wants to be known for the fight he is about to wage outside of it.
X-1 World Events
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Blaisdell Arena
Niko Vitale (22-7) vs. Steve Renaud (3-2)
Marcelo Tigre vs. Vernon "Tiger" White
Mark Moreno vs. Ross Ebanez
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira vs. Deutsch Puu
Augie Padeken vs. Tait Fletcher
Brenton Wolf vs. Bu Nahiwawa
Brandon Wolf vs. Shu Nahiwawa
Brennan Kamaka vs. Rob Hesia
Fighters include: Derek Thornton, Michael Brightmon, Cory Gifford, Robin Clark, Chris Bernard, Kimo Lani, Andre Shaolin, Maui Wolfgram
The former Icon Sport world middleweight champion headlines tonight's X-1 World events show at the Blaisdell Arena when he faces Steve "Nightmare" Renaud in one of 15 scheduled fights.
Vitale (22-7), who is in the process of signing a three-fight deal with the Elite XC organization, still has aspirations of returning to the highest level of mixed martial arts and compete for a world championship, despite being 33 years old.
But tonight's fight is as much about winning as it is his contributions to the local community outside of the ring.
Vitale has agreed to donate his fight purse to Central Pacific Youth Inc. and its West Oahu Project Foundation. The goal is to set up a facility for Hawaii's troubled youth in which they learn the importance of academics, get free after-school care and provide a healthy and safe environment to enrich their lives.
"I just want to use my resources to give back to the community and provide kids with an avenue to get a better life and make the right choices," Vitale said.
X-1 will also donate a portion of the events proceeds to help with the cause.
Last weekend, Vitale and other local fighters took part in a free mixed martial arts clinic for more than 200 kids at Maili Beach Park in which they showed various jiu-jitsu techniques as well as talked about the importance of being good citizens in the community.
"Being there really inspired me to work hard and try to move this program forward," Vitale said. "The kids were full of so much energy and it was special seeing how much fun they were having."
Vitale suffered just three defeats in his first 24 professional fights, but has dropped four of his last six contests, putting his career in a bit of a tailspin. After an impressive showing in the International Fight League in January in which he lost a razor-thin decision to Jeremy Horn, Vitale was approached to be a last-minute replacement for Murilo "Ninja" Rua in June for a fight against Joey Villasenor at a Strike Force event in San Jose, Calif.
Rua was eventually cleared to fight in the last few days before the event, keeping Vitale on the sidelines, but the promotion realized Vitale's eagerness to fight, and have approached him about a deal.
"We're working on it right now," Vitale said. "It brought attention to them that I was serious about fighting and they respected I was willing to take the fight."
Renaud (3-2), who has been the striking coach for notable UFC fighters James Irvin, Scott Smith and Brandon Vera, has the opportunity to play spoiler to Vitale's plans. The California native has only fought once in nearly four years, and knows he will enter the ring as a big underdog.
In the co-main event, UFC veteran Vernon "Tiger" White (25-31-2), who has faced the likes of Chuck Liddell, Bas Rutten and Frank Shamrock, will fight Brazil's Marcelo Tigre in a "battle of the tigers."
The event also features Wesley "Cabbage" Correira and a heavily anticipated rematch between Mark Moreno and Hilo's Ross Ebanez, who went the distance in an X-1 fight last year that Moreno took by decision.
Tickets for the event are on sale at the Blaisdell box office. The first fight is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.