Mixed martial arts 'Uprising' will get national TV audience
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
Millions of eyes are expected to focus on Hawai'i for a mixed martial arts event Sept. 15.
The EliteXC organization is spending millions of dollars to put on a good show.
Gary Shaw, president of live events for EliteXC, made an official announcement yesterday that the "Uprising" card at the Blaisdell Center Arena on Sept. 15 will be televised live on the Showtime cable network. It is the first MMA event from Hawai'i to be televised across the nation.
"We're flying in a large group to produce this event, and we're also going to help the economy by hiring local crew as well," Shaw said. "We're looking at $1.5 million, at least, just to make this happen."
Iowa's Robbie Lawler will face Brazil's Murilo "Ninja" Rua for the EliteXC middleweight world championship in the main event.
Five bouts are scheduled to be televised on Showtime, starting at 4 p.m. (Hawai'i time). Only subscribers of Showtime can view it (it could be blacked out in Hawai'i, depending on ticket sales).
Shaw said Showtime currently has more than 15 million subscribers.
"That's a lot of people," Shaw said. "But I've always believed that Hawai'i is the home of mixed martial arts, and that's a big reason why I wanted to do this."
In addition to Lawler-Rua, the other bouts scheduled for broadcast are: Nick Diaz vs. Mike Aina; Joey Villasenor vs. Riki Fukuda; Jake Shields vs. Renato "Charuto" Verissimo; Gina Carano vs. Tonya Evinger.
Aina and Verissimo train in Hilo. Several other Hawai'i athletes are scheduled to appear on the non-televised undercard.
To help promote the event, EliteXC signed Hawai'i's top two MMA organizations — Icon Sport and Rumble on the Rock.
"Without a doubt, Sept. 15 will be the biggest and greatest MMA event Hawai'i has ever seen," Icon Sport president T. Jay Thompson said. "But Sept. 15 will not be the biggest and greatest event Hawai'i will ever see. I think this is the beginning of what will be some amazing MMA on the islands."
Rumble president Jay Dee Penn said: "There's two different fan bases with Rumble and Icon, so I think this will bring the two bases together and take the sport to a whole new level."
Thompson and Penn have both promoted numerous MMA shows at the Blaisdell Arena, but both said EliteXC's production will be different.
"This will be bigger and better than anything we've seen in Hawai'i for MMA," Thompson said. "The bells and whistles that come with this show are something else, not to mention the quality of fights."
It should be noted that Icon Sport and Rumble on the Rock are collaborating for the Sept. 15 event only.
Rumble on the Rock is scheduled to host its own show Oct. 20; Icon Sport has its own show scheduled for Nov. 17.
Thompson said Lawler and Wai'anae's Kala Kolohe Hose are scheduled to meet for the Icon Sport championship on the Nov. 17 card, regardless of what happens on Sept. 15.
Before the EliteXC deal went through, Lawler and Hose were scheduled to meet Sept. 15. Hose is scheduled to face Jeff Cox on the undercard Sept. 15.
185 pounds: Robbie Lawler vs. Murilo "Ninja" Rua. 155: Nick Diaz vs. Mike Aina. 185: Joey Villasenor vs. Riki Fukuda. 170: Jake Shields vs. Renato Verissimo. 135 (women): Gina Carano vs. Tonya Evinger. 185: Kala Kolohe Hose vs. Jeff Cox. 185: Mark Kurano vs. Jose Diaz. 135: Mark Oshiro vs. Nui Wheeler. 170: Brandon Wolff vs. TBA. 135: Albert Manners vs. Tyson Nam. 160: Kolo Koka vs. Justin Buchholz.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.