History of MMA in United States: Hawaii

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This is the 11th of a 50 part series documenting the history and the current state of MMA for each of the 50 states in the United States of America. Each part will chronicle the history of MMA as well as several notable fighters and camps in each state. States will be completed in alphabetical order. This is the history of Hawaii MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Georgia.

History of Hawaii MMA

Hawaii, the last state to join the Union, is known among the MMA world for its die-hard, enthusiastic fans. For never have hosted a major MMA organizational event, Hawaii is arguably the most well-known of all states that fall into this category. Hawaii has provided the world of MMA with many stars and hopes to hold a major-scale UFC event in the near future.

Hawaii State Boxing Commission

The Hawaii State Boxing Commission began to sanction MMA bouts within the state in 2009. The commission is comprised a bit different from other states in that there are five members and one must be a member of USA Boxing Inc. The other four members are from the public. Hawaii follows the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Arguably the state’s most monumental event to this point was before MMA sanctioning in 2005. The K-1 World Grand Prix Hawaii saw 12,000 fans in Aloha Stadium witness home-state icon BJ Penn win a decision over Renzo Gracie.

When Will the UFC Come to Hawaii?

One of the biggest questions floating around the UFC is when will Hawaii get a UFC card? It seems to be a bit more complicated than just booking a venue. Hawaii has a very high tax rate on promoters who wish to do business in the state.

The UFC and the Hawaii Tourism officials spoke in April 2018 to try and set up a potential event within the state. The tourism board claims the UFC was asking for $6 million in sponsorship fees. This would be the highest sponsorship fee the state would pay, even passing NFL Pro Bowl fees. Currently, the two sides have called off talks for now but hope remains Hawaii will host a huge card in the future.

Fighters and Camps In/From the State of Hawaii

In the world of MMA, you cannot mention Hawaii without thinking of UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn. The former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion currently has a record of 16-12-2 and is considered retired. Penn has made it well known on multiple occasions that he would love to fight one more time and that would be on a UFC Hawaii card. Despite the look of his record, many fighters such as Anderson Silva, have stated they believe Penn to be the best pound for pound fighter in history. FightersOnly! Magazine ranked Penn in their top 5 of the 100 greatest MMA fighters in history.

The Godfather of Hawaii MMA

Penn lead the charge for fighters to come from The Aloha State. The next wave of fighters consists of more of the smaller weight class fighters such as Louis Smolka, Yancy Medeiros, and current UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. Medeiros and Holloway are currently ranked fighter in the UFC in their respective weight classes and former UFC fighter Smolka recently fought at Gladiator Challenge: MMA Fighting Championship where he won by first round TKO. Smolka had a lengthy career in the UFC fighting for the organization 10 times. With a few more wins, Smolka could easily rejoin his Hawaii brothers.

The Future of Hawaii MMA

Max “Blessed” Holloway is currently the number three pound for pound UFC fighter. Holloway has won his last 12 straight including two wins over Jose Aldo. His last loss came to Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen in August 2013. Yancy Medeiros 3-1 since his move to welterweight. He won ESPN’s 2017 Fight of the Year award along with Alex Oliveira for their battle at UFC 218.

Hawaii is also home to many fight teams such as Gracie Technics and Hakuilua MMA Training Center. BJ Penn runs a successful MMA school as well in Hilo named Penn Training and Fitness Center.

Part 12 of the 50 states series will be the state of Idaho. Check back with MMASucka to keep up with the series.

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Matt's love and passion for martial arts began at the age of four with Taekwondo. Matt later trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while serving nearly ten years in law enforcement. Matt has just recently discovered his passion of writing on mixed martial arts.

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