By: King Eddie
As soon as I saw the fight listed on the cards, chills went down my spine. There was no possible way that the match up of Joey Balai and Tony Rodriguez could ever disappoint. And I was right. For the third time in as many events, Joey Balai put on the show of his life. And for Tony Rodriguez, this one probably his third candidate for Fight Of The Year in four fights. Those aren't bad odds.
Tony, the kickboxing prodigy from days past, has made a strong resurgence into the world of kickboxing and MMA. And he is no stranger to the bright lights either. At a very young age, "Da Tiger", was putting on a show inside the ring for the Hawaii fans. Known for his ability to make a legend out of any fight, Rodriguez did not dissapoint in this exhibition with the up and comer from Makaha.
Balai has been climbing his way up the ladder for years now. The young gun has be improving with each outing and making statements left and right. Formerly of Team Makaha, now with Total Control Kickboxing, Balai appears to be more focused, dedicated, and in shape than he has ever been. Taking this shot with Rodriguez was clearly a no brainer.
The two locked eyes before their 5 rounder began, and the intensity was apparent. War was declared and it was about to errupt in front of everyone in attendance.
As the opening bell chimed, Balai and Rodriguez went to work. Neither was backing down, both were circling. Waiting for the first fist to fly, those of us who knew what was about to happen were salivating with excitement. When the first exchange went off, everyone knew that they were in for a treat. Neither man would take a step backward. Each planted and blasted, until several shots had landed. They would back away and circle a bit, then immediately engage once more. Furious frenzy and frenzy broke out in the cage. Balai would land hard on Rodriguez. Rodriguez would land combos on Balai. They would both land at the exact same moment! It was truly a sight to see. Easily one of the most entertaining battles of the year.
Neither fighter tired. Neither ever backed down. The intensity was present throughout. And when the dust settled, there were no losers. Joey Balai and Tony Rodriguez had taken part in the most exciting 5 round exhibition match I and many others have ever seen.
This is what fighters do. This is what combat sports is all about. Heart, Passion, and Glory.