By Lea Young
Honolulu, Hawaii – With only two days until the big day, ProElite held its official press conference today at the Princess Kaiulani hotel near Hawaii’s famous Waikiki beach. Ten fighters from the main card were in attendance for today’s press conference, as well as referees Yuji Shimada and “Big John” McCarthy, and Paul Feller, CEO of Stratus Media Group and Chairman of ProElite.
Stratus Media Group acquired over 90% of ProElite, and as Mr. Feller reported, ProElite is “one of the best acquisitions in their portfolio.”
Fighters in attendance at today’s press conference included: Jake Heun, a former college football player fighting out of Chris Leben’s fight school; Mark Ellis, a NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion wrestler; Raquel Paaluhi, the daughter of one of Hawaii’s first professional mixed martial artists; Sarah McMann, an Olympic silver medalist; Paul Gardner, a veteran mixed martial artist from Tennessee; Reagan Penn, black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu (but better known as the younger brother of BJ Penn); Ray Lopez, King of the Cage veteran; Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski, one of the most popular MMA athletes of all time; Joe “Diesel” Riggs, former UFC veteran, and Maui’s own, Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove, making his ProElite debut after being released from the UFC a few months ago.
All of the fighters thanked ProElite for giving them a chance to fight in this show. For fighters such as Arlovski, who noted that, “for almost two and a half years I was in deep shit,” this fight will hopefully give him another chance to regain his momentum to rebuilt his fight career. While others such as Grove and Riggs, are fighting in a highly anticipated rematch since May 2004 at Rumble on the Rock (also held at the Blaisdell Arena). As Grove stated that both he and Riggs are in the same spot in their careers (Riggs “kicked his ass the first time”), he’s been waiting for the rematch and wants to put on a good show. Riggs said that it would mean a lot to get the “W” against Grove since he is a big name now. He also stated that although he beat Grove in 2004, it didn’t really count because it was so early in his career (as he was a seasoned fighter at the time).
Today’s press conference proved that although UFC Rio will be a hard act to follow, this fight card will NOT disappoint. Hawaii MMA fans have been waiting a long time for another big show to return to the Blaisdell Arena, and with big names like Arlovski, Grove, and Penn, it will be sure to leave the fans wanting more. And now thanks to ProElite, Hawaii’s local up-and-coming mixed martial artists such as Raquel Paaluhi, will get their chance to make a name for themselves on a much larger scale.