MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Oshiro ready for another Icon title
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Mark Oshiro has tasted what it's like to be on one of mixed martial arts' biggest stages.
A win tonight would almost guarantee it would happen again.
Looking to rise to the top of the bantamweight division with a win tonight
The former 135-pound state champion will try to win Icon Sport's newly created 140-pound North American title when he takes on well-rounded Bao Quach in one of the marquee fights at Blaisdell Arena.
It's the only title bout on the 13-fight card that also features Phil Baroni and world middleweight champion Kala Kolohe Hose in a non-title match against Rolando Dominique.
A fight between Brazilian Sydney Silva and Hideto Kondo should also provide fireworks after yesterday's weigh-in. Camps for both fighters got into it after Silva failed to make weight, thinking he had officially made the 160-pound weight limit earlier.
At one point during the fracas, Kondo's training partner, Japanese sensation Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, turned to Icon Sport promoter Patrick Freitas and said, "my fighter, no tap."
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pearl City's Mark Oshiro, left, and Bao Quach meet tonight at Blaisdell for the vacant MMA 140-pound North American title.
Four years ago, mixed martial arts shows weren't on television.
Organizations such as EliteXC, StrikeForce and the International Fight League didn't exist, the UFC didn't have a TV deal, and Icon Sport (then SuperBrawl) was the hot spot for some of MMA's biggest stars today.
What: Icon Sport Hard Times
When: Bouts begin at 5 p.m.
Where: Blaisdell Arena
The sport survived thanks to the Internet, where the biggest and most knowledgeable fans go every day to discuss the latest big mixed martial arts fights.
Tonight's Icon Sport: Hard Times card may not have the marquee names like a Robbie Lawler, Jason "Mayhem" Miller or Frank Trigg, but one bout in particular has created buzz among the hardcore MMA community.
Pearl City's Mark Oshiro, on the verge of becoming a big-time star, fights another guy on the cusp of greatness in Bao Quach for the vacant 140-pound North American title at the Blaisdell Arena.
"Oshiro and Quach are two guys the Internet is blowing up about," Icon Sport promoter Patrick Freitas said. "It's one of the most important fights in the world right now. Whoever wins this fight will be considered one of the world's best in the bantamweight division."
Oshiro, the reigning 135-pound state champion, retired the belt after Icon changed its weight classes. Instead of a 15-pound difference between classes, Icon now has divisions at 130, 140, 150 and 160 in addition to welterweight (170), middleweight (185), light heavyweight (205) and heavyweight.
"Hawaii has a lot of mid-sized kids and 15 pounds is a gigantic gap for a lot of guys who weigh between 150 and 155," Freitas said. "Plus, the UFC and boxing use these odd weight divisions that the casual fan doesn't understand. By going to this base-10 system, it makes it easier for fans and even the fighters to know where they fight."
Oshiro (11-1) is a perfect example. He has dominated the local scene at 135 pounds, but for his recent fights in EliteXC, he has had to make the jump to 140. Most fighters cut down to 140 for the weigh-in and then bulk up to 150 by the night of the fight. Oshiro hasn't had that luxury, but the change in weight classes in Hawaii allowed him to take a new approach toward tonight's fight.
"Two days ago I was 150, eating six meals a day," Oshiro said. "This is the heaviest I've ever been, but it's good weight. Now I'm slowly coming back down to make weight."
Quach (14-8-1) is on an eight-fight winning streak and has been impressive in two victories on Showtime. He has been around the world to fight some of the sport's elite, and his experience is why most say he is the favorite.
"I never really thought about being an underdog or nothing," Oshiro said. "If I am the underdog, it doesn't really bother me."
That's because Oshiro has been at his best when the odds against him are the greatest.
Icon Sport was pushing then-undefeated Tyson Nam as its big up-and-coming 135-pound fighter in 2006 when Oshiro needed just over 2 minutes to put him on his back for a surprisingly easy victory.
As the new state champion at 135 pounds, Oshiro was given an opportunity to fight in EliteXC on Showtime against its big-time, undefeated prospect Chris Cariaso.
The fight lasted about 20 seconds longer than the Nam fight with Oshiro dropping Cariaso with a right hook that put the California-based fighter to sleep.
The win put Oshiro on the cusp of the top-20 at bantamweight, and a follow-up victory tonight against Quach will push him into the division's elite.
"I think this is one good test to see how legit I am," Oshiro said. "This guy has been fighting top-notch guys. For me to step up to fight this guy, I'm climbing the ladder."
Not only does the winner become Icon's new champion at 140 pounds, but it could mean a shot to fight on one of EliteXC's events on network television.
Quach didn't have much to say at yesterday's weigh-ins, saying he doesn't underestimate any opponent. A fighter with an explosive stand-up game and strong jiu-jitsu ground skills, Quach needed just three words when asked if this fight will be the biggest and most exciting fight of the night.
"I guarantee it."