The UFC is long overdue a trip to Hawaii. With plenty of potential fighters that could fill out the card, it is time to take the UFC to the islands. Rich with UFC history, it is time the Hawaiian’s were treated to a UFC card.
Either a fight night or a PPV, this card would certainly sell out. We take a look at the possibility of UFC Hawaii and those fighters who could feature on the card.
Potential of UFC Hawaii
The UFC have been reluctant to commit to a UFC Hawaii card due to a lack of an appropriate venue. The perfect venue comes with its issues. The Aloha Stadium situated in Honolulu is a 50,000 seater stadium and the biggest in the state of Hawaii. It is, however, an outdoor stadium, meaning that the weather could cause an issue should the UFC decide to put on an event here.
One of the UFC’s biggest competitors, Bellator have held events in Hawaii, most recently in December. Their women’s flyweight champion and Hawaiian native, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane headlined the card. The Bellator cards were not put on in the Aloha stadium but rather the Neal S. Blaisdell Centre. If the UFC are still reluctant to use the outdoor stadium, they could potentially follow Bellator and hold an event in the same venue.
Why is UFC Hawaii looking more likely?
As fans will know, UFC president Dana White has had an on-going series, ‘Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight’, where himself, Din Thomas and Matt Serra visit different states and look for up and coming MMA talent. The show has produced the likes of Mickey Gall, Sage Northcutt and Randy Brown to name a few.
The most recent episode was based in Honolulu and featured UFC fighters Max Holloway and Rachael Ostovich. Could this suggest that the UFC may be taking a step closer to putting on an event in Hawaii? There can be no denying that the question will have been put to UFC president Dana White when he was there. The guys checked out local talent and it was clear there is a huge market in Hawaii.
The episode can be seen here:
Contenders for the card
The UFC is rich with talented Hawaiian stars at the moment. This further solidifies why now is the perfect time to bring the world’s leading promotion to the islands.
How could you have a Hawaiian card without featuring ‘The Hawaiian Kickboxer’ himself, the former champ, the pound for pound great, Max Holloway? Former featherweight champion Holloway has been calling for a UFC card in Hawaii for a while now. No one optimizes the Hawaiian fighting spirit like Holloway. Wherever he fights, he brings crowds with him and the Hawaiian fans would certainly come out for him. ‘Blessed’ could carry this card, be the face of the card and bring in a massive crowd. Could we see the blessed express touch down in his home state?
Yancy Medeiros has one of the most fan-friendly styles in the UFC. A member of the roster since 2013, Medeiros has traded wins and losses. Having notched five post-fight bonuses, it proves just how exciting Medeiros is. Although he’s coming off the back of three consecutive losses, the UFC would be ill-advised not to have Medeiros on the card.
Middleweight Brad Tavares has been out of luck as of late. Without a win since his four-fight winning streak from 2016-2018, Tavares has dropped his last two. A recognisable name and a guy who is always down to scrap, Tavares could return at UFC Hawaii in a big way. Ranked #11 in the middleweight division, Tavares could still make a run at title contention. The perfect opponent would be Antonio Carlos Junior. They were booked to face each other at UFC on ESPN+ 28, however, Tavares had to withdraw with an injury.
As we mentioned, Ostovich heavily featured on the episode of ‘Lookin for a Fight’ in Hawaii. The perfect women to feature at UFC Hawaii, Ostovich deserves the opportunity. After a stint on TUF, Ostovich has gone 1-2 in the UFC, losing twice on the bounce by submission. She hasn’t competed since January 2019 and has twice had to withdraw from bouts. A fighter that is unlikely to ever compete for a UFC title, Ostovich has a captivating personality. Could we see Ostovich return at UFC Hawaii?
One of the most underrated fighters on the roster, Dan Ige has been making waves in the featherweight division over the past few years. Sitting at 13-2, with a UFC record of 5-1, Ige notched the biggest win of his career at UFC 247 against Mirsad Bektic. Ige deserves a top 15 guy in his next bout. Who could we see him face at UFC Hawaii? With a number of top 15 guys already booked, it limits opportunities. Arnold Allen, Ryan Hall and Josh Emmett are all top 15 fighters who aren’t booked. Any of these fights would excite fans and would make sense for Ige.
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Smashing his way (literally) onto the UFC scene at UFC 245, Punahele Soriano needs to feature on a potential UFC Hawaii card. The undefeated middleweight won his UFC debut in the first round, showing a rounded game. This was done in just over three minutes against a five-fight UFC veteran. Soriano featured on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series before making his official UFC debut. He was originally booked to fight at UFC on ESPN 8 against TUF, CES and eight-fight UFC veteran Eric Spicely. Soriano withdrew from this bout but is already re-booked. He will now face former LFA middleweight champion, Anthony Hernandez at UFC on ESPN+ 33 in May. A proud Hawaiian, not putting Soriano on a potential UFC Hawaii card would be criminal.
Whenever the UFC takes the octagon into new areas, they often look to tap into local talent. Logically this makes sense and provides an opportunity for the crowd to get behind a hometown fighter and allows fighters who wouldn’t usually get a chance to give it a shot. Two Hawaiian fighters who could be given the opportunity to are Timothy Teves and Pololu Nakanelua.
Teves is 5-1, with his only loss coming in Bellator. Riding a two-fight winning streak, including a win under the Titan FC banner, Teves is a fighter that could fill out a card. The 28-year-old lightweight is fairly inexperienced, but may be given a chance should the octagon come to Hawaii.
Nakanelua is 4-0 but holds an amateur record of 5-3. Competing at both flyweight and bantamweight, Nakanelua could become a contender. At just 24, he still has his whole career ahead of him and allows a lot of time for progression. Having fought just this weekend for Destiny MMA, Nakanelua took a step closer to realising a UFC contract with the win.
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