L‘IHUE — A bout featuring fighters from the Big Island and Kaua‘i will headline the Ainofea/RK Sports Mayhem at the Mansion III, a mixed-martial arts event Saturday at Kilohana Pavillion in Puhi .
Chris Willems of Hilo and Eben Kaneshiro, who is originally from ‘Oma‘o but now resides in Portland, Ore., headline a fight card that features 22 fighters from all over, including Las Vegas, Washington State, Oregon, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.
Event organizer Vance Pascua said he expects a lot of support for tonight’s event, saying that the last “Mayhem” had over 1,500 fans.
“It’s now a big community event,” Pascua said Friday afternoon during the weigh-ins at Kukui Grove Center. “It’s a nice feeling when you get the whole community involved.”
The best advertisement the event has, Pascua said, is word of mouth from the fighters. As many of the fighters are locals, they tell friends and family to come support them at the bout. Because of this, Pascua said, there is a tight community feel to the event.
The main event between Willems and Kaneshiro is sure to excite the local crowd. Both fighters are skilled and should prove to be equal to their opponent, Pascua said.
“I don’t even want to go there with that,” he said when asked which fighter is favored. “That match is so close it could go either way.”
Many shoppers stopped to watch Friday after noon as the fighters weighed in. This was a good sign for Pascua, who hopes that the popularity of MMA on Kaua‘i will only continue to grow with each fight.
“It’s getting to be a big draw now,” he said. “People love it.”
The fights start at 5 p.m.