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‘This is more than a test’

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Local fighters Niko Vitale and Kolohe Hose will meet for the first time Sept. 11 in X1: Heroes.

Masanori Suda, Robbie Lawler, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Kalib Starnes … Kala Kolohe Hose?

Niko Vitale has fought in the main event of mixed martial arts cards in Hawaii for half a decade, but never against a fellow local fighter.

That will change Sept. 11 when Vitale (27-9) and Hose (7-3) headline X-1: Heroes at the Blaisdell Arena.

Outside of UFC stars BJ Penn and Kendall Grove, Vitale and Hose might be the two most recognizable local fighters.

Vitale was the main attraction during SuperBrawl/Icon Sport’s glory days in 2005 and ’06, filling the Blaisdell Arena for memorable fights against Suda, Lawler and Miller.

Hose became those organizations’ next local star, defeating Phil Baroni in a memorable five-round war in 2008.

Now the two will go at it under the X-1 banner in a battle of Waianae (Hose) vs. Waipahu (Vitale).

"I pride myself in not fighting the local boys, but I’m doing it because it’s what people want to see," said Vitale, the X-1 middleweight champion.

Vitale won the belt in 2008, defeating two guys in the same night to win a four-man tournament. He returned to the X-1 cage in March of this year, beating Starnes by submission, but aggravated a knee injury and had to be carried out of the cage.

He went nearly three months without training, but says he is fully healed and ready to step back in the ring.

"I tried to get back into training about six weeks (after the fight), but it just wasn’t healing fast enough," Vitale said. "I put on a few pounds, but once I got back in the gym I’m back in shape."

Vitale had been training for an Aug. 14 fight against Thales Leites, but said he won’t be competing in the event in Irvine, Calif.

The six-month layoff is nothing compared to the 17 months between fights for Hose, who hasn’t fought since losing to Jason "Mayhem" Miller at the Blaisdell Arena in April 2009.

The former Icon Sport middleweight champion teetered on the verge of national stardom, knocking out Frederic Belleton in a ShoXC fight on Showtime.

An elbow injury caused him to miss some time and, like Vitale, a bad run of scheduled fights on the mainland that didn’t work out has kept him inactive.

The injury forced him to pull out of a fight against Trevor Prangley and recent problems with promoters have prevented him from fighting in Canada.

Nevertheless, Hose isn’t worried about the layoff heading into the showdown against Vitale, who at 36 is eight years older.

"This is more than a test. This is like a college exam," Hose said. "For me the key is to be mentally set (because this) will be a very emotional fight."

Both fighters have trained with many of the same guys, but never with each other.

Hose’s biggest weakness is on the ground, where he was vulnerable in losses to Miller and Robert McDaniel.

Fifteen of Vitale’s 27 wins have been by submission. He admitted to being envious of Hose’s style.

"His style I wish I had. He can knock out anybody," Vitale said. "I’m sure I’ll stand in front of him and feel him out, but who knows how the fight is going to go?"

X-1 also announced the semifinals of a light heavyweight tournament, featuring Hilo’s Poai Suganuma against Russia’s Vitaly Shemetov and South Korea’s Sang Soo Lee against Roy Boughton of California.

In addition, a 145-pound world title bout between Dave Moreno and Ricky Wallace and a 135-pound title fight featuring Bryson Hanson against Russell Doane are set for Sept. 11.

Tickets go on sale Aug. 7.


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