MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Referee George Adkins pulled Niko Vitale off Steve Renaud in Vitale's TKO win on Saturday night at the Blaisdell Arena.
Vitale KO caps wild X-1 show
Niko Vitale's 43-second destruction of Steve Renaud was about the only fight that went off without a hitch during Saturday night's X-1 World Events show.
Vitale's knockout of Renaud was overshadowed by a controversial ending to the non-title welterweight fight between Mark Moreno and Ross Ebanez, one of many bizarre occurrences during the event that lasted into the early morning at the Blaisdell Arena.
Moreno and Ebanez -- arguably Hawaii's two best welterweights that have yet to fight in the UFC -- met in a rematch of a fight last year that Moreno won by decision. After a close first round, the two got tied up in the ropes, when referee George Adkins signaled for both fighters to stop. Moreno, who claimed he didn't hear the referee, pushed Ebanez to the ground and punched him twice before the referee stopped the fight again, setting off a wild scene that saw both corners jump into the ring before being broken up by security.
The fight was eventually ruled a no contest, which didn't please either fighter.
"I didn't want a no contest," Moreno said. "I know he could have continued, but he just didn't want to. He was acting."
During the fracas that lasted nearly 10 minutes, Ebanez was on the mat the entire time, holding his jaw. He suffered a stinger in his jaw from one of Moreno's punches and couldn't close it enough to hold his mouthpiece in, forcing the ringside doctor to stop the fight after much deliberation.
"I stopped for the takedown and he bullrushed me and caught me with a bad sucker punch," Ebanez said. "He caught me square right on the chin and I thought my jaw broke, but it was just a stinger. It was like I was chewing hard meat for hours."
The people sitting in the front row where the fighters got tangled in the ropes all agreed that they heard the referee say stop, and replays showed the referee clearly putting his hands on both fighters to tell them to stop.
"What happened was they tied up and Mark had the guillotine in and they went through the ropes and they sat there," Adkins said. "For safety I yelled stop and touched both fighters. Ross completely stopped and I don't know what happened. Mark kicked in for some reason and proceeded to hit him."
"In my eyes when someone does a foul it's a disqualification," Ebanez added. "But the ref came up to me and said if I disqualify him there's going to be a riot so it's going to be a no contest."
According to Adkins, the no-contest ruling was made so that neither fighter would have a loss added to their record and could rematch with the title on the line at the next X-1 show.
It was just one of many weird finishes during the show. In the last bout of the evening, Vernon "Tiger" White broke his hand while punching Marcelo Tigre, and had to verbally tap out.
Also, the fight between Wesley "Cabbage" Correira and Deutsch Puu ended in a forfeit after Correira pulled out of the fight. No reason was given as to why, but both fighters entered the ring long enough for "Cabbage" to get on the microphone and call out the fans in attendance who were booing his forfeiture.
Nearly lost in it all was the dominating performance of Vitale (23-7), who can look ahead to fighting for Elite XC after knocking out Renaud with a huge left hook to the chin that crumpled him to the canvas.
"My punches were kind of straight and he was kind of wild," Vitale said. "He threw a leg kick and I was able to check it and throw my right hand follow and then caught him good."
Vitale will take a week off before getting right back to training, as he hopes to fight next month in Hawaii as part of a rumored Elite XC card that has yet to be officially announced.
In other action Saturday night, Michael Brightmon defeated Brazilian Andre Shaolin in the final of the eight-man open-weight tournament. Brightmon earlier defeated Derek Thornton and Cory Gifford to reach the final, while Shaolin advanced by beating Chris Bernard in the semifinals.
Local boy Maui Wolfgram defeated Shaolin in the opening round by decision, but couldn't continue in the tournament, allowing Shaolin to step in and take his place.
Twins Brenton and Brandon Wolf won their fights by first-round TKOs against brothers Shu and Bu Nahiwawa. Former "The Ultimate Fighter" participant Tait Fletcher won a split decision against Augie Padeken. Rob Hesia beat Brennan Kamaka by first-round TKO in the opening fight.