RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kala Kolohe Hose managed to land a left hand on the face of Phil Baroni last night.
Hose sitting on top of the world
Waianae's Kala Kolohe Hose can add "Nostradamus" and world champion to his ever-growing list of nicknames.
Hose brought the Icon Sport world middleweight title back home to Hawaii after a jaw-dropping TKO stoppage of Phil Baroni 26 seconds into the fifth round in the main event of the "To Hell and Back" card last night at Blaisdell Arena.
A crowd of 4,200 witnessed Hose stop Baroni with a barrage of right hands and kicks to become the first local fighter to hold the middleweight title since Waipahu's Niko Vitale.
"It was the best fight of my life," Hose said. "The crowd is the one to give me the drive to keep going. I'd like to thank the crowd."
Hose improved to 6-1, while Baroni lost for the fourth time in his last six fights to fall to 10-9. It was Baroni's first fight since serving a six-month suspension for testing positive for steroids.
Hose predicted earlier in the week that if he could hold up against Baroni's opening barrage, he would eventually gas and Hose's conditioning would pay off.
That's exactly what transpired, as Baroni won the first round with a combination of takedowns and knees that hurt Hose. At one point, Baroni landed three or four knees on the left side of Hose's face that left him badly bruised.
"I was in trouble when he was stomping on my head," Hose said.
Once the round ended, Baroni struggled to stand back up and get to his corner and Hose immediately knew he had the former UFC and PRIDE veteran right where he wanted him.
Hose caught Baroni with a knee to the gut that put him on the ground and started a pattern that would play out the rest of the fight. Every time Hose would catch Baroni with a shot, he'd drop to the ground on all fours and clutch at Hose.
Hose knew he had nothing left in the tank.
"He dropped his hands and started breathing," Hose said. "He wasn't as strong as he was."
Hose controlled the rest of the fight at will, but couldn't put Baroni away. Baroni was warned for "fleeing" as twice he ducked under the bottom rope in order to dodge Hose's ongoing barrage of strikes and kicks.
The end came early in the fifth round as Baroni staggered out of the corner and was dropped by a right hand. A kick to the face and another flurry of punches finally forced referee Chris West to stop the fight, sending the pro-Hose crowd into a frenzy.
The finish ended a long and bumpy road for Hose, who had his dreams of being a champion dashed three different times due to various injuries and scheduling conflicts.
With the newly designed Icon Sport belt strapped around his upper body and surrounded by family and friends, Hose flashed that same smile he's had the entire journey.
"It's heavy," Hose said of the belt. "I'll fight anybody."
The five-round war highlighted 13 fights filled with knockouts and submissions, as only two bouts went the distance.
Jeremy Williams got the biggest win of his MMA career with a devastating knockout of Augie Padeken in the first round of the co-main event.
The former boxer turned MMA fighter caught Padeken with a left hook that put the local boy on the canvas. Williams followed it up with an overhand right before the referee stepped in to stop the bout at 2 minutes 18 seconds.
"This is my theory when I punch and I tell it to everybody and they look at me like I'm dumb," Williams said. "It's very simple. All I want to do is touch you. If I touch you, then I can hurt you. That overhand right I threw when he was down, I threw with bad intentions. Everything else, I was just trying to touch him."
It was his fourth straight win in the Icon ring and sets up a possible fight with the Big Island's Poai Suganuma, who trains with UFC champion BJ Penn. Williams had three boxing fights and two MMA fights canceled in the last six months, but still has plans of becoming a unified champion.
"I want to fight for the Icon and then challenge the EliteXC champion, whoever it is, and unify the belts," Williams said. "I'd like to turn around and fight in four or five weeks, but whatever they tell me I'll take it."
Two prominent local fighters on opposite ends of the spectrum made their Icon debuts last night with first-round victories.
Koa Ramos, who just this week signed a deal with EliteXC, defeated Wayne Perrin III by submission after forcing him to tap to a rear naked choke.
Ramos improved to 4-0 in his career with a win in his first fight on the big stage.
"I had a lot of jitters stepping into the Icon ring," Ramos said. "I did feel a lot of pressure because (Icon) hyped me up a lot, but for me, the pressure makes me perform a little bit better."
While Ramos is a young and up-and-coming fighter, Hilo's Ross Ebanez is a veteran of organizations all across the United States.
The one promotion he hadn't fought in was Icon, and he made his debut a quick one as he beat Brennan Kamaka in just 9 seconds.
As soon as the bell sounded, Ebanez put Kamaka into the ropes with a straight left hand. He quickly pounced on Kamaka and unloaded a barrage of punches. Kamaka's corner threw in the towel just as Kamaka tumbled out of the ring.
"I knew once I hit him with the first punch it was over," Ebanez said. "I'm not in Icon and I'm focused on becoming a champion."
For a complete list of the event's winners and a round-by-round breakdown of each fight, check out http://blogs.starbulletin.com/fightingwords/