POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011
Six fights fill the main card of ProElite's first mixed martial arts card in more than two years.
And each one has a unique story line.
Whether it's the highly anticipated debut of Reagan Penn or Andrei Arlovski trying to regain the form that made him a UFC heavyweight champion, ProElite has packed a little bit of everything into its first MMA event under that name on Aug. 27 at the Blaisdell Arena.
"It's been a long time coming," TJay Thompson, head of fight operations, said at a press conference Friday. "It's a really interesting time in the MMA industry, one of the most intriguing times since I've been in the business since 1995."
Thompson ran the SuperBrawl and Icon Sport promotions for more than a decade in Hawaii and routinely averaged more than 6,000 people at events as recently as 2006.
However, MMA has been a tough sell in recent years, with organizations struggling to get even 2,000 people to attend fights at the Blaisdell. ProElite hopes to reverse that trend next month with a card highlighted by former champions and promising names making their MMA debuts.
Maui's Kendall Grove, who won the UFC's Ultimate Fighter reality show in 2006, will fight for the first time since being cut by the UFC after a loss to Tim Boetsch in May.
He'll face Joe Riggs in a rematch of a fight Riggs won by knockout in 2004 at the Blaisdell Arena.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to try to turn the tables," Grove said on Friday. "Joe's a great guy ... but it's business. We're in the hurt business."
Arlovski, who at one time was the most feared heavyweight in the world, will try to end a four-fight losing streak against Ray Lopez (5-2).
Arlovski was part of the StrikeForce eight-man heavyweight tournament this year, but was knocked out in the first round by Sergei Kharitonov.
He holds wins over Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum and Wesley "Cabbage" Correira, but hasn't won a fight since knocking out Roy Nelson on the last EliteXC show, which was run by ProElite.
Former University of Hawaii linebacker Jake Heun will get his first taste of fighting at the Blaisdell when he faces Mark Ellis, who won an NCAA national title in wrestling at Missouri.
Both Ellis and Reagan Penn, B.J.'s brother, will be making their professional MMA debuts.
ProElite is offering a 20 percent discount on all tickets for today only. Ticket prices range from $28 to $200.