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Friday, Jul 21, 2000

Rings Usa Hits Hawaii

Rings USA Hits Hawaii
Story and Photos By Michael Onzuka

      The Rings master plan has made its way to a little island in the middle of the Pacific, very similar to the homeland of Rings, Japan. Big names are coming out of the woodwork to see where they stand in the Rings modified NHB format, as well as to watch the action. Rings Utah winners that were present at the weigh in’s include both Tsuyoshi "TK" Kosaka and Chris Haseman.
Haru, Josh Barnett, Akira Maeda
Both fighters are undoubtedly present to scout their future opponents. The King of Rings, Akira Maeda, was also present. For those who have not see Maeda in person, this man is a giant. Local Hawaii favorites John Lewis and Josh Barnett have both come back to Hawaii to accompany their fighters and will attempt to coach them to victory.
      Rings seem to be more viewer friendly because if a fight is stagnant on the ground, the fighters will be stood up. This equates in to more opportunity for highlight show knockouts. A fighter can extend his stay on the ground by being actively improving his position on the ground or attempting various submissions. Fans will be used to the allowed punching, kicking, knee, and elbow attacks while standing, but once the fight goes to the ground, no knee and elbow strikes are permitted. Fighters are allowed to punch only below the shoulders, excluding the groin. I see these two rules as offsetting since the strikers will have many opportunities to end the fight standing because of the many re-starts. The technical grapplers see the limited striking on the ground as a chance to work their magical mystery moves and attempt to manipulate and submit their opponent. The real question is which of the fighters involved in the two 4-man Middleweight and two 4-man Heavyweight tournaments can adapt their style to these different rules. Fighters that accidentally break the rules will be issued a yellow card and lose a point in the 10-point scoring system. Three yellow cards and the fighter is disqualified. For flagrant fouls, the referee will issue a red card and the fighter will be immediately disqualified.
Falaniko Vitale
      Now that the rules are out of the way…let’s get to the fighters. Local grown fighters Falaniko Vitale (SWAT), who was a stand out University of Hawaii Football player and a NHB fighter with a 4-0 record returns to action along with Kawika Paaluhi (Jesus is Lord Gym), who introduced technique and a well rounded background to Hawaii fight fans when NHB in Hawaii was in its infancy. Joining them are Tali Kuliha’apai who seemed to be in a great mood all night and Wesley "Cabbage" Cabrerra, who will attempt to slice and dice his opponents tomorrow. These young talented fighters bring the Hawaii fans out and give them something to cheer about. The experienced Adrian Serrano had his game face on during the weigh ins. Rings Japan stars Kanehara and Namekawa look to be favorites because of experience with Rings and its rules. John Lewis brought in his student, Big Eric Pele. After talking with John, the name Pele seems to fit him well because he is supposedly a cat-like quick fighter even though coming in as a heavyweight. Valintijn Overeem from Rings Holland will add more international flavor in the melting pot that is called Hawaii. Eddie Millis, who seems to keep his guys on a strict diet and weight training program, brought the very ripped Josh Hall from his Shark Tank. East coast favorite Tom Sauer, as well as Mike Dresch, Chris Munsen (AMC), and the owner of the fast knockouts, Rocky Batastini, will join the fun.
Dave Menne
Last, but not least, arguably the best lightweight in the world right now, Dave Menne will jump up a weight class to take on the middleweights. I thought that weight would be a factor for Menne until I saw him. His frame can easily carry 200 pounds well and in fact, had to sweat off some pounds to make the 200 pound class!
      With the weigh-ins over and T. Jay Thompson’s blood pressure dropping now that everyone showed up, all we have to do is wait until the event begins. Hawaii fans are following the trends of fans across the nation and seem to be more educated about the technical aspects of NHB events. The early events were riddled with boo’s when the majority of the fights went to the ground. Now, I can hear the fans talking about how each fighter is setting up arm-bars, chokes, and foot locks while wrestling. The two 5 minute rounds with an additional 5 minute overtime in the event of a tie, along with the re-start rule if there is non-advancing ground work, will keep fight fans interested. There is a good mix of international talent, local flavor, and experience champions that will make Rings Hawaii an action packed event.

Click here for more pictures from the weigh-ins
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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