Falaniko Vitale wins MMA middleweight world title
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawaii’s Falaniko Vitale defeated Kalbe Starnes via choke submission in the first round to win the X-1 World Events organization’s middleweight world championship Saturday night.
Vitale took Starnes to the mat early in the bout, then applied the choke, which forced Starnes to submit.
It was the main event of the “Champions II” professional mixed martial arts card at the Blaisdell Center Arena.
Vitale improved to 27-9, and appeared to injure his knee during the fight.
He limped out of cage after the bout.
Starnes, a former competitor in the prestigious UFC organization, dropped to 14-5-1.
Vitale said he will fight in another organization in May, when he faces Brazil’s Murilo “Ninja” Rua in a pay-per-view bout.
In last night’s semi-main event, Hawaii’s Harris Sarmiento defeated Alaska’s Richie Whitson via a controversial split decision to win the lightweight world championship.
Whitson controlled the first three rounds of the five-round bout, but Sarmiento appeared to gain momentum in the later rounds.
In other X-1 world championship bouts on the card:
• Dave Moreno of the Big Island defeated Kurrent Cockett of Maui via rear naked choke in the second round to win the featherweight (145 pounds) world title.
• Bryson Hansen of Kailua defeated Maui’s Riley Dutro via split decision to win the bantamweight (135 pounds) world title. The bout lasted three 5-minute rounds.
Three state champions were also crowned last night: Russell Doane, Bryson Kamaka and Sadhu Bott.
Doane defeated Timothy Meeks with a triangle choke in the second round to win the 135-pound state title.
Kamaka got the knockout of the night, dropping Michael Brightmon in the opening seconds of the fight to win the 155-pound state championship.
Bott defeated Matt Comeau to win the 145-pound state title. The bout was stopped in the second round due to a shoulder injury to Comeau.
Koa Ramos highlighted the undercard with a vicious first-round knockout of Joe Verbeetam.
In another undercard bout, Japan's Satoshi Ishii defeated Waiçanae's Sasae Paogofie via armlock submission in the first round. Ishiii won a gold medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics.
The next X-1 event is scheduled for June 4 at the Blaisdell Arena, and will feature Kailua’s Brandon Wolff against Maui’s Dylan Clay.