By: King Eddie
King Of The Cage: Ali'is will be taking place at the Blaisdell Arena on July 14th. Headlining the card will be a legend of MMA here in Hawaii, Falaniko Vitale.
Niko's opponent is a very game and humble fighter from the far away land of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, by the name of Elmer Waterhen. As a fighter who has seen his share of brawls, Waterhen is not a green fighter. He has been in several wars and has learned some very important lessons about himself.
"My strengths are that I can take a punch and keep on going. The longer the fight goes the better I get. I usually kick in around the second or third round."
Waterhen is a man who doesn't lie to himself about the task that lies ahead of him. Niko Vitale is a tough opponent for anybody in the sport, and Waterhen has been tirelessly training in order to tighten any loose ends of his game. He feels that this is the biggest fight for him thus far and that he will surely be a huge underdog. But the thought of being counted out doesn't really bother him.
"The odds are stacked against me. He's powerful and strong. We have been trying to pick apart all of his fights that we have and see what kind of mistakes that he makes. We basically have nothing on him though. I know he is good on the ground. He has good striking and fast too. It's a big honor to be able to fight Niko."
Though in his career he has losses, Waterhen sees only successes. To him the biggest part of his life is staying out of trouble, staying true to his religion, and supporting his family.
" I got into the fighting business to stay out of trouble. With this fight, God gave me the chance to fight an amazing guy. Win or lose, I will go into my next fight the same way. It's all for Jesus. I still work a full time job, train, and I'm a single father."
For Vitale, this is a return from a year long layoff. Though many would suffer some form of ring rust, Vitale feels that he has done enough to overcome that. As many can tell you, Vitale's dedication in the gym is nearly unmatched. He trains hard and real, preparing himself for anything the fight will throw at him.
"I don't think there will be any ring rust. I have been sparring a lot inside the ring, so I don't think that will be an issue. I'm really excited to get in the cage and do something I love to do."
Vitale's career in undoubtedly illustrious. He has faced the best in the world, and hold victories over many top ranked and highly respected fighters. One reason he has found so much success in MMA is because he respects each opponent and never overlooks anyone. It's an example that many newcomers can learn from.
"Can't take anybody lightly. I'm training really hard for this fight. Working on my Boxing, working on my kickboxing. I would love to get the KO if I can. But you never know what's going to happen. I can't take anybody lightly."
As a fighter who is known for his absolute strength and technical precision, Niko is feared around the MMA world by fighters, and loved by fans. There is an honesty to his style as well as his demeanor. Being calm, respectful, intelligent, and powerful are all trademarks of Vitale's personality that reflect in his fighting. Though when he is in the cage, he tends to add imposing, fierce, and overwhelming to the mix. As with everything in life, Niko wants to give this fight everything he has. And though his opponent appears to get stronger as the fight goes on, Vitale will attack as he always has.He wants to finish fights.
"For me I'm always trying to finish the fight as fast as I can. If it has to go long is that I will be ready for it. I'm in good shape. With an opponent like this that I don't know much about, it's something I have to deal with. Do my thing and have fun and worry about myself."
For a seasoned veteran like Vitale, the physical aspect become second nature. But there is always the need to mentally prepare.
" For me now, it's always more mental preparation. For this fight, I am mentally prepared."
So as fight day nears, Vitale find motivation all around him. From his beloved fans here in Hawaii, to his family and friends that support him. And especially in this bout, the team in the gym that has pushed him and challenged him. The ones who have urged him to get back in the cage. They have motivated him and prepared him for battle, and now he wants to show them that their support will lead to victory.
"My motivation is the guys that I train with. After my last fight with Hector, I kind of just wanted to weigh my options and see where my career is going. But the guys I train with want me to get out there and fight again. They motivate me to get inside the ring. I just want to get back in there and do something that I love to do. Give back to the guys that help me prepare for this fight."
With war closing in on July 14, the Hawaii fans will see the battles play out in the cage. In an event that is appropriately named Ali'is, we will see royalty of the Hawaii MMA community testing themselves against tough and battle tested mainland scrappers. No matter the result we can be certain that both Vitale and Waterhen are prepared to leave it all in the cage for their shot to come out with their hand raised.