Hawaii may be far removed from much of what happens on the mainland, but the caliber of fighters cannot be denied. When the popularity of MMA was first on the rise, it seemed that everyone who was anyone in the ring had to pass through Hawaii if they were to make a name for themselves.
Longtime fans will remember the days of Rumble on the Rock, Super Brawl and Icon Sports. These shows hosted some of the best fighters of their time, many of whom are still finding high-level success. It has been over a decade since the islands have had a big-name show. That doesn’t mean the talent isn’t here.
When Bellator MMA announced that they would be coming to Hawaii, the Hawaiian MMA scene erupted with excitement and hopeful fighters looking to be on the big show. The UFC has been talking for years about the possibility of a show on the island with the encouragement of local fighter and UFC Champion Max “Blessed” Holloway.
Bellator Hawaii has beaten them to the punch (pun intended) with not only one show, but two. Bellator MMA 213 on December 15 will be preceded by a show on the 14th titled “Bellator Salutes” as a tribute to all of the military personnel stationed on the island.
Hawaii Fighters Step up Their Game
The fight culture does differ slightly in Hawaii from the mainland. Many mainland fighters have discovered the need to self-promote on social media to expand their audience and provide benefit to their sponsors. This emphasis on marketability is desirable for promotions who want fighters that can perform, but also sell tickets and get fans excited.
Taking a closer look at Hawaii’s MMA community over the past several months, fighters have begun to realize the power of self-promotion. Not only do sponsors place a significant value on social media numbers to ensure adequate representation, so do promotions. Even for some of the fighters who didn’t make it on the Bellator Hawaii cards, the opportunity to improve marketability has been valuable.
All Eyes on Hawaii
In recent years the only promotion broadcasting off of the islands has been X-1 MMA. Exposure from PPV and Facebook Live has helped propel Hawaii fighters like Ray “Braddah” Cooper III, who is fighting for the Professional Fighters League (PFL) to higher levels of competition. Hawaiian UFC fighters Max Holloway, Yancy Meideros, Louis Smolka, Rachael Ostovich and others all got their start on the island, fighting on local promotions.
Bellator is streamed live on Paramount Network, which means that viewers on the mainland and around the world will be able to tune in for two nights of Bellator Hawaii fights in Honolulu.
Bellator 213 and Bellator Salutes
If Bellator Hawaii is going to bring their whole crew and cage over from the mainland, they might as well make the most of it. The promotion will be hosting back-to-back shows at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The first show will take place on December 14th as a salute to the military personnel stationed on the island. The main card will feature a lightweight world title fight placing Brent Primus against Michael Chandler. Other fights include Frank Mir vs Javy Ayala, Derek Campos vs Sam Sicilia and Alejandra Lara vs Julian Velasquez.
Bellator 213 will be held the following night. The main event is a highly anticipated female flyweight title fight between Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Valier Letourneau. This will be Macfarlane’s first fight on the island since high school wrestling. Former UFC fighter Lyoto Machida will face off against Rafael Carvalho in the co-main event. Other main card fights include Neiman Gracie vs Ed Ruth and King Mo Lawal vs Liam Mcgeary.
Both cards have a host of local fighters on the undercard and early main card. Hawaii is honored to have this opportunity to have Bellator on the island. The team at Xclusive MMA asks that the MMA community come out to support the fighters and promotion. Show some aloha and let’s help Hawaii fighters make a name for themselves and the islands.