HONOLULU (Sept. 15, 2007) – In dramatic and convincing fashion, “Ruthless’’ Robbie Lawler captured the EliteXC middleweight championship with an exciting third-round TKO over defending champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua in the EliteXC main event Saturday on SHOWTIME.
Southpaw Lawler, who entered the cage as the ICON Sport middleweight titleholder, rocked and mocked Rua (14-8-1) on several occasions before dropping him with a left hand. He followed with a series of jackhammer right hands and two lefts before the referee stepped in and halted matters at 2:04.
“He tried to take it to the ground a few times,” said Lawler (15-4), of Davenport, Iowa, “but I just shook him off. I didn’t want it to go to the ground. I am in great shape so we just stayed up and I pounded him.”
The biggest, most noteworthy Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event in Hawaii’s history took place at Blaisdell Arena and was presented by Los Angeles, Calif.-based ProElite's respected live fight division, EliteXC, Hawaii-based promoters ICON Sport and ROTR (Rumble On The Rock), and SHOWTIME.
“We promised an ‘Uprising’ and that’s what fans at the arena and those viewing on SHOWTIME got tonight from start to finish,” said EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw. “This was a spectacular night of fights, exactly the type that fans of EliteXC have learned to expect.
“This organization vowed from the beginning to present the best fights and the best fighters. Everyone saw that tonight. There were no losers. Everyone was a winner tonight, especially the fans.
“All the fighters fought their hearts out, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
“This was truly a historic night for EliteXC, ICON Sport and Rumble On The Rock. We are all very excited about how the fights went and are already looking forward to doing it all over again in Hawaii. The fans here in Hawaii were into it from the get-so, and are exceptionally knowledgeable.’’
In featured fights on an action-packed undercard, Team Gracie (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields) went 2-0 against Team Penn (“Charuto” Verissimo, Mike Aina) in the first-ever fights between the rival, highly respected camps. Diaz registered a hard-earned split decision over the hard-trying Aina in an exhausting, bloody slugfest and the streaking Shields scored a first-round TKO over Verissimo.
The Golden Girl of MMA, Gina Carano remained unbeaten with a victory by submission over Tonya Evinger, and Joey Villasenor outlasted Riki Fukuda to take a split decision in other televised bouts.
“I fought a smart and controlled fight and kept my distance, but that is how I fight these days,’’ said Lawler (Robbielawler.proelite.com) after a smashing victory capped yet another tremendous night of EliteXC fights on SHOWTIME.
“I told my corner after the second round that I was going to knock him out. Even when he landed, I punched back and knew I was hurting him.’
Said Rua (murilorua.proelite.com), of Rio de Janiero, Brazil: “My strategy was not very good tonight.’’
Making his EliteXC debut and first start in six months, southpaw Diaz (15-6, 1 NC), of Stockton, Calif., survived an early knockdown and a cut right eye to outpoint the local favorite, Aina (9-6-1), by the scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29.
Aina, who was as courageous as anyone could expect, landed the more powerful punches, but Diaz connected more often with gyrating jabs and left hands. Diaz was on the verge of choking out Aina at the end of the second round, but Aina was saved by the bell.
“I know I could have fought better, said Diaz (nickdiaz.proelite.com). “I feel good, but I am really disappointed in the way I performed. I should have started a lot faster because Aina fought me with everything he had.
“I don’t know if the layoff had anything to do with it, but I did some stupid things like standing in front of him and getting knocked down. But I wasn’t hurt. The bell definitely saved Aina at the end of the second round. I know I can prepare better. I am looking forward to getting back into the cage.
Carano (5-0), of Las Vegas, was making her first start since her history-making performance Feb. 10, 2007, on SHOWTIME.
“This is such a relief for me because there was a lot of pressure coming into this fight,’’ said Carano (ginacarano.proelite.com), who won by submission (choke-out) over Evinger (5-2) at 2:53 of the first round.
“When she got me down, I knew I couldn’t freak and had to keep my composure. After reversing her, I considered standing up. But I’ve been practicing working on top, so I just went through with it.’’
Offered Evinger (tonyaevinger.proelite.com), of Oak Grove, Mo.: “I made a lot of mistakes. I wrestled terribly. Gina doesn’t hit or kick as hard as they say. I try to work on limiting my mistakes, but I just made too many. I would love to fight her again.”
Villasenor (24-6), of Albuquerque, N.M. won a hard-hitting battle that featured numerous exchanges on the ground and standing up by the scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29.
“I am happy and very relieved,’’ said Villasenor (joeyvillesenor.proelite.com), who was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons. “I think I showed what I am about: tough and gritty. This is very important for me to win and prove to myself that I am one of the best middle weights in the world.”
Fukuda (8-3), a lefthander from Japan, landed his fair share of kicks and fists, but fell short.
“I can’t argue with the decision,’’ said Fukuda (rikifukuda.proelite.com). “I don’t know if I was nervous with this being the first major fight I’ve had in the United States, but I won’t make any excuses. I could have pressured him more. I would love to fight him again.”
In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME telecast, Shields (19-4-1), of San Francisco, made surprisingly quick work of Verissimo (8-5). The referee stopped the fight at 4:00 with Shields on top of Verissimo and landing a series of unanswered punches. Shields is unbeaten since December 2004.
“I was hoping to win in the first round, but in a way I wanted it to go a little longer. I am happy, but never satisfied,” Shields (jakeshields.proelite.com) said. “If Frank Trigg wants to fight me at a catch weight I will be happy to fight him next. If not, I feel I deserve a shot at the title. I have scored two dominate wins now in a row.”
Said Charuto (renatoverissimo.proelite.com): “I can’t believe it. He got me in a mount. I tried to get out of it but couldn’t. This is disappointing. Everything was fine until he took me down. I have no one to blame but myself.”
EliteXC announcer Mauro Ranallo called the “Uprising” play-by-play with world wrestling star Bill Goldberg and Stephen Quadros, The Fight Professor, serving as color analysts. The executive producer of the telecast was David Dinkins, Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.
Following the SHOWTIME telecast, five undercard fights were streamed live on the Internet on the premier mixed martial arts social networking and entertainment site, ProElite.com, In scheduled three, 3-minute round fights: Kala Kolohe Hose (4-1) scored a 20-second, first-round TKO over Jeff “Pee Wee’’ Fox (1-0-1) at 195 pounds; Mark Kurano (1-0) won by first-round submission over Jose “The Bomber” Diaz (1-1); Mark Oshiro (9-1) won by first-round submission (rear-naked choke) over Nui Wheeler (2-0) at 135 pounds; Brandon Wolff (6-2) won a decision over Chad Klingensmith (4-1) and Tyson Nam (4-1) won a four-round decision over Albert “Always Bad’’ Manners (7-7).
In results of fights not shown on SHOWTIME or ProElite.com, Justin Buchholz (7-1) rallied from a knockdown to register an exciting TKO over Ikaika Choy-Pu (1-2), and Chico Cantiberos (3-3) scored a first round submission vs. Elias Delosryes (1-1).
With the exciting triumph, Buchholz earned a spot on the Oct. 26 ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series on SHOWTIME.
“What Gary Shaw said came as an absolute total surprise. I was supposed to go right back to work after this fight. I work as an oil refinery laborer in Alaska. Now I am not sure how I am going to handle everything, but I am definitely fighting on October 26.”
SHOWTIME will re-air EliteXC: Uprising during the premium network’s FREE PREVIEW WEEKEND on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET/PT.
From Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30, SHOWTIME will be available to non-subscribers (approximately 54 million homes nationwide, a record for the network). So if you missed the live telecast and do not subscribe to SHOWTIME, tune in during FREE PREVIEW WEEKEND on Sept. 29 for EliteXC: Uprising.
EliteXC: Uprising will also replay on SHOWTIME this week at the following times (all times ET/PT):
SHO TOO Saturday, Sept. 16 3:00 am
SHO EXTREME Monday, Sept. 17 8:00 pm
SHO TOO Tuesday, Sept. 18 10:00 pm