Five world-title bouts, a state amateur title fight and the mixed martial arts debut of professional boxer and Playboy cover girl Mia St. John headline tonight's "X-1: Champions" card at the Blaisdell Arena.
Waipahu's Niko Vitale will try to win the world middleweight championship in a four-man elimination tournament.
A total of 19 fights are scheduled to take place, as well as entertainment provided by Natural Vibrations.
Tickets for the show, which starts at 5 p.m., are still available at the Blaisdell Box Office or online at www.ticketmaster.com
As combat sports have evolved over the years, so has the life of Mia St. John.
When: Today, 5 p.m.
Where: Blaisdell Arena
What: X-1 middleweight tournament
Featuring: Niko Vitale, Joey Guel, Ricky Shivers, Kenny Ento; X-1 heavyweight title fight: Analu Brash vs. Ron Waterman; X-1 welterweight title fight: Mark Moreno vs. Chad Reiner; X-1 lightweight title fight: "Sugar" Shane Nelson vs. Kaleo Kwon; X-1 super lightweight title fight: Eddie Yagin vs. "Dirty" Dave Moreno plus 13 other fights including Mia St. John vs. Rhonda Gallegoes, Wesley "Cabbage" Correira, Anthony Torres and more.
Her fighting career started with tae kwon do at 6 years old, but eventually transitioned to boxing as its popularity soared in the early- to mid-1990's.
More than 10 years later, the sport has evolved again and St. John is doing the same as she makes her mixed martial arts debut tonight against Rhonda Gallegoes at the "X-1: Champions" card beginning at 5 p.m. at the Blaisdell Arena.
"I think the switch is pretty obvious," St. John said. "You start seeing all the exposure that (MMA) gets on television and in the media and then promoters start calling you. Boxing has kind of taken a backseat to MMA."
Her boxing career elevated St. John to celebrity status. She spent four years opening for most of Oscar De La Hoya's major fights.
Her success landed her a spot as the cover girl for a '99 issue of Playboy magazine. Three years later, her fighting career culminated in a dream showdown against Christy Martin that went the full 10 rounds.
Now she makes the transition to mixed martial arts, which she admits to being completely different than anything she has done in the past.
"I have to get used to longer rounds, but not as many rounds," St. John said. "It's very difficult because I like to go round after round after round. I just want to keep going."
Her body has weathered more than 50 professional fights and countless other competitions, opening the door for retirement from combat sports.
Her dream has always been to fight in her family's home country of Mexico, and she will get that chance in a boxing match on April 4.
"I always said I would never retire until I fought in Mexico," said St. John. "I wanted to end my career fighting in my family's country. I'm thinking that might be my last fight."
When a fighter decides to retire, the announcement is often seen as legitimate as a sidewalk game of three-card monte. But as with every step of the way in her long career, St. John is going to do what she wants no matter what people think. As long as the decision is left to her, that's all the former IFBA lightweight champion can ask for.
"The beauty of it is I still have the offers, but I'm leaving on my own terms," St. John said. "That's how I want to end my career."
Vitale back for more
In addition to five title bouts, Waipahu's Niko Vitale headlines a four-man tournament to crown the X-1 middleweight champion.
This is the second time in as many outings Vitale will compete in a four-man, one-night elimination tournament.
"It's coming from the old UFC days," Vitale said of the tournament style. "I like it because it just shows just what kind of character a fighter has."
Vitale is coming off a controversial loss to Trevor Prangley in a Strikeforce tournament in November.
The fight was stopped after Vitale was poked in the eye midway through the second round. According to the former Icon Sport world middleweight champion, he was ahead on one of the three judges' scorecards while the other two had it as a draw at the time of the stoppage.
Based on Strikeforce rules, the decision was ultimately left up to the referee, who awarded Prangley the victory and a spot in the tournament final later that night.
"I feel like the fight should have continued," Vitale said. "I don't know why the hell they stopped the fight. I was okay after a few minutes, but they didn't give me a chance to continue."
The other fighters in the tournament are Alaska's Ricky Shivers, Joey Guel of Oregon and Kenny Ento of California.
Ento is 9-2 and has won seven of his last eight fights. Guel boasts a 12-4 record and Shivers is the largest fighter in the tournament at 6-foot-6.
"I want to win at least one tournament in my career," Vitale said. "It's something I asked for and I'm glad I have the opportunity to do it in Hawaii."