MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Lawler rocks Rua for Elite belt
STORY SUMMARY »
Things could not have gone any better for Icon Sport.
ICON's champion beats EliteXC's best in the main event last night
» Robbie Lawler def. Murilo Rua by TKO
» Nick Diaz def. Mike Aina by split decision
» Gina Carano def. Tonya Evinger by submission
» Joey Villasenor def. Riki Fukuda by split decision
» Jake Shields def. Charuto Verissimo by TKO
» Other winners: Tyson Nam, Kala Kohole Hose, Mark Kurano, Mark Oshiro, Brandon Wolff, Elias Delos Reyes and Justin Buchholz
Not only did Tyson Nam defeat Albert Manners by unanimous decision in the anticipated Icon vs. Rumble rivalry bout, but Icon Sport champion Robbie Lawler addeded another championship belt to his collection.
The man who will defend his Icon belt Nov. 17 against Kala Kolohe Hose is now the EliteXC world middleweight champion after overwhelming Brazilian Murilo "Ninja" Rua.
The knockout came in front of a live audience on Showtime as it was the first time in Hawaii that a mixed martial event was broadcast live on national television.
The fight was just one of 12 action-packed fights.
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It's a good thing Robbie Lawler is opening a new gym.
He needs somewhere to stash his growing collection of championship belts.
Lawler's trophy case of titles just got a little tighter, as the Icon Sport middleweight champion added the EliteXC belt to his collection after a third-round TKO victory over Murilo "Ninja" Rua in the main event of EliteXC: Uprising.
In front of a live East Coast audience on Showtime -- and 5,000 rabid Blaisdell Arena fans -- Lawler (15-4) won his second world title in as many fights.
Demonstrating the knockout power that he is known for, Lawler wore down Rua for two rounds before devastating him with a flurry of uppercuts, hammer fists and elbows that left Rua in a heap on the mat. Referee Mario Yamasaki called a stop to the fight at 2:04 of the third round.
"I knew I was going to go out there and knock him out," Lawler said. "That's how I fight."
Lawler has spent his entire career training under Pat Militech in Iowa, but recently opened a new gym in Granite City, Ill., with Matt Hughes.
With Hughes in his corner, Lawler showed the patience and maturity that has made him a champion in overwhelming Rua (14-8-1).
"I'm the first champion to enter that camp and I know Matt will do the same in December," Lawler said.
Hughes fights Matt Serra for the UFC welterweight title at the end of the year, but last night was all about the man known as "Ruthless."
Lawler spent the first two rounds patiently standing in front of Rua, measuring his opponent. Rua was ahead on two of the three judges' scorecards after the second round, but Lawler knew the end was near.
"He was getting tired and I was getting stronger," Lawler said. "Matt was telling me (after the second round) that I had to get more active, but I told him don't worry. I'm about to knock him out."
Lawler did exactly that with an onslaught of blows to Rua that the Chute Box Academy fighter had no answer for.
He won't have too much time to celebrate, as he will return to the islands Nov. 17 to defend the Icon belt against Kala Kolohe Hose.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Robbie Lawler waited for his chance to knock out Murilo Rua last night in the main event of EliteXC: Uprising.
Hilo's Mike Aina entered his fight against Nick Diaz as an 8-to-1 underdog, but went toe-to-toe with the Gracie jiu-jitsu fighter for three rounds in a clash that went to the judges' scorecard.
One judge scored the bout 29-28 for Aina while another had it 30-27 in favor of Diaz. The final score was 29-28 in the favor of Diaz, who earned the split decision.
"I don't like to make excuses, but that stuff kind of happens when you don't know much about your opponent," Diaz said. "I should have spent most of my energy trying to get a takedown."
Both men kept the fight standing in round one and traded vicious shots throughout the opening 5 minutes.
Aina came back to drop Diaz with a right hook early in the second round, but tired toward the end. It allowed Diaz to take over with takedowns and ground control in the final round.
"It was a close fight," Aina said. "Nick landed more shots, but I landed harder shots. That 30-27 score was crazy."
California's Jake Shields had no problem with Hilo's Charuto Verissimo.
Verissimo scored an early takedown, but Shields quickly got back to his feet. Once Shields scored a takedown of his own, he was able to work his way into the mount position and stop Verissimo with a series of strikes at 4:00 of round 1.
"I was on mount and just kept punching him and punching him and punching him," Shields said.
In the only female fight of the night, Gina Carano remained undefeated by submitting Tonya Evinger with a rear naked choke with 7 seconds left in the first round.
"I don't even know what was going through my head," Carano said. "I just wanted to choke her."
Rounding out the televised portion of the event, Joey Villasenor and Riki Fukuda went at it for three rounds in a standup war that Villasenor eventually pulled out by a close split decision.