by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Who Will Be Champion?

Rumble on the Rock Crowns First Ever Welterweight Champion This Weekend

Preview by Damon Martin, MMAWeekly

Mixed martial arts has been gaining more fans and notoriety almost everyday and Hawaii has become a hotbed for the sport over the last couple of years and Rumble on the Rock has settled in as the biggest promotion on the islands and they will crown their first ever welterweight champion with the semifinals and finals of their tournament this weekend.

Yushin Okami vs. Jake Shields

In the first match-up, Cesar Gracie student Jake Shields takes on Pancrase and K-1 veteran, Yushin Okami. Shields made his way to the semifinals with a victory over former UFC champion, Dave Menne in January. Shields was sharp with his takedowns, controlled the pace, and thoroughly dominated the fight picking up the unanimous decision win. Okami’s path to the semifinals was paved with a bit more controversy after his fight with Anderson Silva ended in a disqualification.

Coming into the tournament, Anderson Silva was a heavy favorite to walk out champion, but Okami came ready to fight and worked to get a takedown early in the first round. It was at that moment that a heel kick from the long legged Silva connected to Okami’s temple, knocking out the Japanese fighter. After a moment of discussion, the decision came in, and it was ruled because Okami’s knees were on the mat at the time of the strike, regardless of the fact that he was in the power position, Silva kicked a “downed” opponent which is illegal. Okami couldn’t continue and Silva was disqualified, giving the DQ win to Yushin Okami.

Now Okami will look for redemption against Jake Shields, proving that he does belong in this tournament. Okami has a strong ground game but it is likely that Shields, who competes regularly in grappling tournaments like Abu Dhabi, will be the better of the two on the ground. Shields biggest flaw is his stand-up and if he isn’t able to shoot in on Okami and take him down or at least pull guard, that will likely end up being the most likely scenario for him to lose. Okami on the other hand has solid jiu-jitsu and is a fairly good striking background as well.

With a final match-up still to fight in the same night a quick ending would be best, but neither fighter is best known as a finisher. Jake Shields should be able to get the win in this fight and help to continue to build his status as a true mixed martial artist, stepping out of the shadows of his amazing ground game.

Frank Trigg vs. Carlos Condit

In the second semifinal match-up, Frank Trigg returns to Hawaii to face up and comer, Carlos Condit, who made the biggest impact during the first round of the tournament with his stunning knockout win over hometown favorite, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo.

Carlos Condit had already made a name for himself in Hawaii when he gained a TKO victory over another local favorite in Ross Ebanez last November. Condit was invited back to compete in Rumble on the Rock, with no easy task taking on Renato Verissimo in his first fight. As Charuto shot in on Condit in the opening seconds of the fight, he got caught with a knee that staggered him and soon after the New Mexico native was punishing Verissimo on the ground. The referee intervened and at only :17 seconds into the 1st round Condit defeated another Hawaiian legend and stepped up his ranking in the tournament with the upset win.

Not much introduction is needed when speaking about Frank Trigg on this website, but his fight career was at a critical point when he took on Ronald Jhun in his first round tournament fight in January. Trigg was coming off back to back losses in the UFC to Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre, and he was also recovering from ankle surgery that sidelined him up until the fight with Jhun took place. Trigg had even talked candidly about possible retirement if he lost the fight.

While taking on a hometown favorite like Jhun in his backyard couldn’t have been easy, Trigg dominated the fight and picked up the decision win. He took down Jhun almost at will, although at one point, Trigg was working for a submission on the ground and the referee stood the two up stirring some speculation that some favoritism was being shown to Jhun, who is a native son of Hawaii. Despite the controversy, Trigg endured and won the fight by decision, which was actually the first ever of his career. After the fight, Trigg admitted that he was being somewhat tentative in the fight, knowing that a loss would be simply devastating to his future fighting career, but still got the win in strong fashion.

Coming into this fight, Condit is once again the underdog against the much more seasoned Frank Trigg, who has seen the top of the mountain and faced the very best. The biggest factor in this fight is the same as the contest between Condit and Charuto, being that not many expect Condit to win, which makes him a very dangerous opponent. Condit has devastating striking power and is very tall for 170lbs, which will work to his advantage trying to use his reach to keep Trigg away from taking him to the ground.

Trigg on the other hand does have good stand-up, but knowing that Condit has very dangerous kickboxing skills, will likely go for the early takedown. Both of Condit’s losses in his professional career have come by the way of submissions, and while Trigg is a big fan of grounding and pounding his opponent, he is still proficient enough to pull out a submission win.

Again, the earlier the fight ends, the better off the winner will be. Trigg’s last fight was the first decision of his career and it’s not likely that this will be his second. Unless Condit can catch the same kind of early strike on Trigg the way he did on Charuto, the upset kid could be in for a long night. Trigg has lost during his career but only once by KO and has a very solid chin. Look for Trigg to get a big slam in the opening minutes, putting Condit against the cage and reigning in elbows to pick up the win, putting him in the finals.

Finals: Frank Trigg vs. Jake Shields

If the finals pair down to these two, fireworks could be in the making. Shields has publicly stated that he has wanted to fight Trigg for sometime and Trigg is never one to back down from a challenge and has said that he was hoping for this potential match-up for the championship. Shields is again a very good ground fighter, but prefers to get the takedown and work from inside his opponent’s guard and the fact is, he is not going to take Trigg down. Trigg got a lot of flack after losses to St. Pierre and Hughes but considering they are the top two fighters at 170lbs, it seems more logical why he lost. (granted, they were both by rear naked choke…had to do it Trigg).

Look for Trigg to open up his arsenal in this fight, especially if Shields tries to shoot in and puts his head down long enough for Trigg to unload a knee or his patented elbows. The fighter so many seemed to count out after two losses will comeback strong and win the Rumble on the Rock welterweight tournament, picking up his first title since the WFA championship from a few years ago.

Champion: Frank Trigg