One of Kauai’s own will take the stage on what’s being hyped as Hawaii’s biggest mixed martial arts event.
Timothy “War” Teves of Kapahi is expected to compete when Bellator MMA hosts a show at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, scheduled for Dec. 15.
“I’m beyond grateful right now,” Teves said Wednesday. “It’s not 100 percent. It’s confirmed, but right now they have a list of fighters that they want on the show. My managers told me that I’m at the top of the list. I’m trusting with what they say. I’m going to keep my faith strong. I just got to wait until I get the contract signed.”
SuckerPunch Entertainment, the management company that represents Teves, announced on social media Wednesday that Teves is one of nine “A-Team” Hawaiian fighters that will fight in the Bellator show.
“I got the call yesterday. It was up in the air. They didn’t want to blast it on social media until this morning. I got the heads up from my managers. They told me this is it. They going to get me on,” Teves said. “This morning, I got the call from them. They told me, ‘OK, we’re set. Get ready.’”
He added: “This is so huge for me. This is everything I dreamed of. This is everything that I worked hard for. I’ve been putting away top contenders and showing the world I belong in the big leagues, the bigger shows. It so happened the opportunity presented itself.”
Teves is 3-0 in his professional MMA career and holds the X1 145-pound featherweight championship belt. He won it after defeating Niko Novelli in early August in Honolulu.
With Teves now fighting in December for Bellator, his scheduled Nov. 17 fight to challenge for X1’s 155-pound lightweight championship against title holder Suguru Nii is canceled.
“I’m looking to progress myself in bigger promotions. X1 gave me a platform. I thank them for giving me a platform to display my skills,” Teves said. “They got me here. They got me to this next level. I just want to thank X1 for exposing me out to the world.”
Teves expects his bout in December will be in the 145-pound class. His opponent is to be determined.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the news of Bellator coming to Hawaii. The event will be headlined by undefeated Bellator women’s flyweight world champion and Honolulu native Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0) defending her title against Valerie Letourneau (10-6).
It will be the first time since 2008 a major MMA promotion hosted an event on Oahu.
Bellator announced Wednesday that the co-headliner will be former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, who will be making his Bellator debut against Rafael Carvalho in a middleweight bout.
A full fight card is yet to be released.
“This is huge, man. We have a wave of upcoming Hawaii fighters. We have talent here in Hawaii that needs to be seen,” Teves said. “I’d like to thank Ilima-Lei Macfarlane for making this all happen. She’s the Bellator champion. We need to appreciate her for getting Bellator to come to Hawaii. … Not even Max Holloway could get UFC to come to Hawaii. I’m sure after this fight, UFC will definitely try to make their way out here.”
Despite MMA’s popularity statewide, the UFC has yet to come over.
In April, the Star-Advertiser reported the UFC scrapped plans of hosting a show in Hawaii in 2018 because the promotion and the Hawaii Tourism Authority were far off on financial negotiations. The UFC asked for a $6 million sponsorship fee while the HTA offered $1 million.
The fights will be broadcasted on DAZN, an online video streaming service. Tickets are expected to go on sale Sept. 21.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.