Over the weekend, Star Elite Cagefighting along with Man Up & Stand up put together a fight card for the ages. As usual with this particular promotion, there were many belts on the line. In this particular organization, Champions remain active due to the wealth of hungry contenders. And once again on a night of fights to remember, these young up and comers didn't disappoint.
In an early kickboxing bout between Duane Amara and Randy Kamaiopili we got to see exactly why Hawaii's roots in the art of standing and trading will never be forgotten. These two warriors banged out haymaker after haymaker while simultaneously exhibiting exactly what an iron chin looks like. Punch for punch and kick for kick, the two waged a war that would serve as the spark that ignited a brightly burning fire of fights to follow.
In the ,now, rarely seen Triple Threat match, Kaluma Jones showed that first timers aren't' always part timers. Every outlet of his game looked to be on point, but his dedication to each movement gave hope that he will progress immensely in his coming competitions. His opponent, Burrke Vinluan, was no slouch either. For a few fresh faces, the technique and skills were there. This was their opportunity to put it all together and each did it wonderfully.
Knockout Of The Night goes to the sick striking of Bryson Bolohao. However, Cas Sony of Bulls Pen didn't make it an easy outing for the Westside kickboxing prospect turned MMA fighter. Electing to stay on the feet, Bolohao and Sony went back and forth. Sony would back Bolohao around the cage, but Brysen found ways to answer with big shots. The most significant string of the night came in dead center of the cage, when Bolohao struck Sony with a big shot to end the night. Though out on his feet, Sony refused to immediately drop. Thought he finally fell and the bout came to a close, his absolute resolve to stay standing was worthy of much acclaim. In true fight fan fashion, the crowd erupted for the big KO and Bolohao left the event a crowd favorite once again. More on Bolohao in an upcoming story.
Despite breaking his hand in the opening round, Joshua Farr fought his way out of trouble and into a submission victory. Clearly up to snuff on his fundamentals, Farr found his path to the W via his transition game. In many key moments of the fight, Phill Kapu had been in a more dominant position. But the level headed foresight of Farr shined through when he took control of a key transition and transformed that into not only a victory, but one hell of a slick finish. Keep your eye on this kid. Humble, Happy, Hard Work, Toughness, and Chemical X. . . these are the ingredients used to make a future contender.
Continuing the trend of awesome finishes, Rylan Fonoti took control of a bout against Chevis Antoque and found that dropping bombs from top position was a good way to say hello. In the early goings, Antoque was laying hard leather. Thunderous strikes shook the cage. But the cool head of Fonoti would pay off in the end. Moving into a dominant position and taking full advantage of his ground and pound, Fonoti found victory via Submission due to strikes.
In a super fast title defense, Geremy Martin took Brandon Mina out with a slick submission. The bout didn't last long at all, and though both men were very game, Martin proved the better man that night. Taking fast advantage of his grappling abilities, the champ locked in tight and never let go. Extinguishing the title hopes of Mina via triangle choke.
In yet another title fight, Matt Lascola met with Adam Azimov for the Featherweight strap. Unlike many of his previous appearances, Lascola was taken out of the first round and actually fought to a decision. Azimov would not relent. The striking game was on point for Lascola, and in some moments it seemed he would put Azimov away on the feet, but like several other periods of the fight, both men ended up on the mat. The high level of grappling on display may have flown over the head of the casual fan. Sweeps, reversals, and transitions were the name of the floor game. In once crucial moment of the fight, when Azimov had gained the top position, Lascola manipulated the elbow of Azimov in order to sweep and take dominant position. These moments of brilliance mixed with "bite down and throw" portions made for a very entertaining fight, and one more notch in the belt of Matt Lascola.
The main event displayed some familiar faces to the local scene, Justin Burgess and Jose Barriero. The fight opened with a strong showing from Burgess. Barriero played it much more conservative than usual, and it looked like Burgess was going to run away with the victory. But little by little, Barriero engaged and found a home for a big right hand to the eye of Burgess. The two circled and threw a little more before the eventual TKO was waved by the ref, as Burgess covered his head from strikes.
Once again, these fights blew us all away. Such a great night for the budding local talent in Hawaii, and the future stars of combat sports the world over.