MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
STAR-BULLETIN / MARCH 2007
"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler, above, faces Murilo "Ninja" Rua in the main event.
MMA rivals unite under EliteXC banner
For years, Rumble World Entertainment and Icon Sport battled each other to be the face of mixed martial arts in Hawaii.
The rivalry will continue, but with the help of Live Events president Gary Shaw and ProElite.com, the two biggest promotions in Hawaii united under the EliteXC banner.
The result is an 11-fight mega-event Sept. 15 at the Blaisdell Arena titled EliteXC: Uprising.
"It's definitely a couple of steps up, both with the fights and the production," Rumble World Entertainment's J.D. Penn said. "It's going to blow people away."
The format is different for most local fight fans. The show begins at 3 p.m., with two undercard fights, including a fight between Rumble's Albert Manners and Icon's Tyson Nam. The fights will then go live on Showtime from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will then finish with four more undercard bouts. All six non-televised fights will be streamed live on the Internet at www.ProElite.com.
"My vision for (EliteXC) when I came aboard was to have true world champions," Shaw said. "I wanted to bring promoters from different organizations around the world into the fold so that when a fighter in the cage or in a ring held up a belt, it was a true world championship belt. It wasn't just a belt from the organization."
Icon Sport middleweight champion "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler and EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo "Ninja" Rua will square off in the main event for the EliteXC title. Whether Lawler wins or loses, he will still be recognized as the Icon champion.
Despite joining together for this card, Rumble World Entertainment and Icon Sport will still produce their own shows.
Rumble on the Rock hasn't done an event on Oahu in more than a year, but is "100 percent" committed to do multiple shows here, according to Penn.
Icon Sport will do an event Nov. 17 where Lawler and Kala Kolohe Hose will meet for the Icon belt. Hose will be in an undercard bout on the EliteXC show, but win or lose, is still guaranteed his fight against Lawler.
It's a roll of the dice for Icon Sport owner T. Jay Thompson, who could be putting together a title fight between two guys who lost in the same arena two months earlier. Or he could be putting together a fight featuring the EliteXC world middleweight champion.
"There's always risks and rewards," Thompson said. "I'm very confident in Robbie Lawler's skills. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have him fighting in another organization for their belt."
An organization like EliteXC gives fans an opportunity to see matchups between fighters who wouldn't normally get to fight each other.
"That's what EliteXC is all about," Shaw said. "The winner of Ninja and Lawler will be the star. The winner will walk out of that cage on that night with two belts and they can truly say I'm a world champion."