By: King Eddie
Hawaii fight fans are all ablaze ever since our fearless MMA Warriors ended 2013 and started 2014 with one hell of a bang. In the UFC the islands are rocking an awesome 7-0 out of the last 7 bouts they've participated in. On the Singapore card alone, Hawaii went a historic 3-0 with Russell Doane, Dustin Kimura, and Max Holloway. To follow up, Louis Smolka blasted his UFC debut in the face, with a near bonus worthy destruction of his opponent, Ozkilic. Preceding those 2014 wins, 2013 was closed out with Yancy Medeiros scoring a Knockout over Yves Edwards in his second Octagon appearance, and Travis Browne putting his foot to the jaw of "The Reem". But now, a myriad of challenges lie ahead of our Hawaii fighters setting up the perfect opportunity for our stars to burn brighter than ever.
Both Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros will take to the cage at UFC 172. Holloway's announcement came first. His opponent, a hot barrel young gun that goes by the name of Andre Fili. If he sounds familiar, he recently took on Hawaii's Ricky "Hoku" Wallace at Tachi Palace fights before making his way to the UFC a few fights later. His big show debut was nothing short of fantastic as he blazed through Jeremy Larson with a second round TKO. In "Touchy" Fili's 13-1 record, his only loss comes by way of injury. But the heavy hitting, fast paced Newbie has his toughest task in store when he squares off against Hawaii's Holloway. Coming off of a bonus winning, jaw dropping (and possibly jaw breaking) performance against Will Chope, "Blessed" if finally being allowed the courtesy of a full fight camp. Looking sharper and more dedicated that ever before, Max couldn't be happier with the matchup standing in front of him. In the best shape he's ever been in, and with 7 UFC bouts under his belt, our local fighter has no problem saying that he's salivating at the opportunity to get into the Octagon and trade with Fili. Fireworks is most certainly on tap for this bout, but the fluidity, comfort, and ease of Holloway will likely assist his cruise to victory.
Medeiros got the wrong end of bad luck in his UFC debut, but quickly made up for lost time with his KO of Yves Edwards on his second go-round. Now, with the entire Lightweight landscape in front of him, Medeiros was called upon to face a familiar name. . . well. . . sort of. The UFC's Welterweight bruiser, Jake Ellenberger will not be making a drop to Lightweight, but his brother, Joe Ellenberger, will be making his UFC debut. Yancy will be the man across the cage welcoming him to the biggest MMA organization in the world. In Ellenberger's 14-1 record, he has scored an astonishing 12 finishes. But Medeiros matches his enthusiasm by boasting a 10-1 record, 8 finishes, and his only loss coming via injury. Not to mention, coming down all the way from 205 and 185 to the likes of 155 leaves Medeiros with an inhuman ability to manhandle some of the biggest guys in the division. Taking nothing away from Ellenberger, look for the HI fighter to use his UFC veteran nerves, and his unorthodox lead left to take out little Ellenberger and put the tomb stone on the hype train.
Also in April, Hawaii's lone Heavyweight, Travis "Hapa" Browne will fight for title contention when he clashes with Fabricio Werdum. Werdum left the UFC years ago after suffering a devastating KO loss to the then debuting Junior Dos Santos. After leaving he strung together quite a run, even becoming the man to break the seemingly never ending win streak of Fedor Emilianenko. As Strikeforce folded to the UFC, Werdum came back with a new fire. Battling through Roy Nelson, Mike Russow, and Big Nog, Werdum expects to challenge for the title soon. But he has one gigantic Hapa standing in the way of his hopes. And this Hapa boy has been making a career out of ending hype and ending title runs. Browne's impressive win list includes his heart stopping survival, and subsequent KO of Alistair Overeem. In his most recent outing, Browne took out Josh Barnett in 1 minute using his "Blue Collar Bows" a.k.a. vicious elbows to put an end to yet another highly hyped fighter. Look for Browne to do what he does best in this bout. No matter what Werdum prepares for, look for Travis to adapt and overcome to extend Hawaii's streak.
In his 4th UFC tilt, Dustin Kimura will be heading to Quebec to battle it out with George Roop. The TUF, WEC, and UFC vet has amazing wins under his belt. Most notably was his head kick Knockout of the Korean Zombie in the WEC. But in Roop's UFC career he's been slightly inconsistent. 4-3 inside the Octagon, Roop's chin becomes slightly suspect. But his guns still come out blazing, which has been his saving grace. Scoring exciting knockouts in his career, it's pretty clear what Roop will look to do against Hawaii's Kimura. "The Diamond" however brings his nerves of steal to the cage and prepares for his 3 win in 4 outings. The Jiu-Jitsu phenom has been developing his striking skills since making his way to the big show and promises to become a multi-threat talent. With KO power, a cool head, and a ground game that will exhaust you just thinking of it, Dustin may take try to make his bout against Roop his first KO in the UFC. No matter where the fight goes, look for Kimura to shine bright. . . like a Diamond. ( Yeah I know. Cheesy but I had to do it.)
Finally, Louis "Da Last Samurai" Smolka will mix it up in Cincinnati with the 16-5 (6-3 UFC) veteran Chris Cariaso for his second UFC appearance. Looking at the record of Cariaso it's easy to see who has the most experience, but with key losses when it counted the most, Cariaso is the exact opposite of Smolka who seems to continually beat the odds. Mostly a grinding, decision heavy fighter, Cariaso matches up well with Hawaii's Smolka. In his 7 fight, undefeated career, Smolka has made grinders fall short. His unstoppable chin and rubber boned ground game lead the way in his charge against boring fights. The lights don't really come on for Louis until his bell has been rung a few times, and then he begins to inexplicably gain conditioning as the fight wears on. His pressure, length, unorthodox striking, speed, chin, and ground game will give Smolka the lead in this matchup. His unbelievable heart, however, closes the deal.