by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
EliteXC premiered on the Showtime network in February of this year and has since gone on to work various events with other promotions. On September 15, the promotion returns to Showtime with a fight card featuring some of the top fighters in the world.
The main event features newly-crowned EliteXC Middleweight Champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua making his first defense against ICON Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler.
The portion of the undercard that is to be televised on Showtime features bouts between Nick Diaz and Mike Aina, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo and Jake Shields, and Gina Carano and Tonya Evinger.
The undercard was also expected to feature a middleweight contenders’ bout between Falaniko Vitale and Riki Fukuda, but that was before Vitale instead, according to Sherdog.com, accepted an offer to fight for K-1 and Strikeforce.
In the wake of Vitale’s exodus, Greg Jackson-trained fighter Joey Villasenor has agreed to take the fight with Fukuda in the hopes of getting a return match against either Ninja or Lawler, both of whom he has lost to.
“I’d like to fight both of them again, eventually. I’d like to get a win against both of them and then have that rubber match. Kind of like Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, you know?” said Villasenor.
But before that happens, he isn’t looking past Fukuda. “He’s gonna be tough. We’re just gonna prepare and go at it,” commented Villasenor. “I’ve got five weeks to get ready for the fight. But I’ve been working out [since the Ninja fight in June]. I’ve been training, so the timing isn’t too bad.”
For Villasenor this fight is a little bit more than a pick-me-up for himself following the loss to Ninja. Several other members of the Jackson’s team have had a rough go of it in their most recent fights as well. Nathan Marquardt lost in his UFC title bid against Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans had a draw with Tito Ortiz at UFC 73, and Keith Jardine was unexpectedly TKO’d at the hands of Houston Alexander.
So, Villasenor is looking to help right the ship, so to speak. “We’re in a growing stage as a team. We’re a young team,” says the 31 year old. “We’re going to learn from it and get better because of it. We’re all going through this together and it makes us all the more hungry.”
EliteXC: Hawaii is scheduled for September 15 in Honolulu with a portion of the fight card, including the main event, to air on the Showtime premium channel and a portion of the undercard to stream live on ProElite.com.
(10pm EST / Televised on Showtime)
Murilo “Ninja” Rua vs. Robbie Lawler
Nick Diaz vs. Mike Aina
Joey Villasenor vs. Riki Fukuda
Renato “Charuto” Verissimo vs. Jake Shields
Gina Carano vs. Tonya Evinger
(Following Showtime Telecast / Streamed on ProElite.com)
Jaw Suk Kim vs. Brandon Wolff
Kala Kohole Hose vs. Jeff Fox
Mark Oshiro vs. Nui Wheeler
Mark Kurano vs. Jose Diaz
(9pm EST / Non-Broadcast)
Justin Bucholz vs. Kolo Koka
Tyson Nam vs. Albert Manners