HANAPEPE — Rain came and went, but the show went on as fighters from all around battled on Kauai’s Westside.
Local mixed martial arts promotion “Kauai Cage 17: The Return” took place Saturday evening at Hanapepe Stadium.
The fight showcase, hosted by Ainofea Productions and RK Sports, featured several local fighters as well as those from other islands and the Mainland who entertained a crowd of about 1,000.
“I just love the way the people came out to support their fighters and also support the event,” said Vance Pascua, owner and CEO of Ainofea. “The fighters left it all out there. You saw it was down to the wire for a lot of bouts that could have gone either way. That’s what I love about the matchmaking.”
In the night’s main event, Zach Zane of Maui defeated Kauai’s Fatu Tuitasi via submission.
Zane clinched the victory in the 150-pound pro MMA bout with a rear naked choke late in the second round.
“I don’t even have words,” Zane said. “I was coming off two or three losses. The world told me to quit. God told me, ‘Don’t quit. Never give up.’ Told me to trust him. Sometimes, you got to believe and have faith in what you don’t see. Tonight I displayed that. Tonight, that was my heart. Tonight, that was God working through me.”
Tuitasi got cut in the first round. In the second round, the cut bled profusely.
“I saw red, yes. But I saw a man that had heart, and I have nothing but respect for him,” Zane said. “Nothing but love for him. I know he has a family that loves him and friends who love him. I love him. He’s my opponent in that cage. But outside the cage, he’s my brother.”
Tuitasi came back in the second round and took the fight to Zane with several strikes. Tuitasi also attempted a rear naked choke of his own early in the round, but Zane escaped.
“I just want to say one thing,” Tuitasi said afterward. “God bless my opponent. God bless Vance and the show. God bless Boars Nest. I’m coming back.”
Pascua said the main event was a classic match between styles.
“It was a technical bout. Fatu is a good striker, and the other guy’s a good jiu-jitsu guy,” he said. “A chess match — who’s going to keep them in their game? And Fatu got out of a couple of submission holds. It wasn’t like it was an easy bout for Zach. Both of them got a taste of their strengths and weaknesses.”
While there wasn’t an official fight of the night on Saturday, Pascua said his vote could have gone to one of two matches that were decided by the judges:
w Chai Kimura, of Boars Nest Kauai, defeated Lopaka Lono, representing 808 Top Team, via unanimous decision.
w Kaylan Gorospe, from HMC Oahu, beat Frank P.J. Miranda, of PJ Miranda Maui, by split decision. Both fights had high action from the opening bell to the last.
“When you go the distance, either one could be fight of the night,” Pascua said. “Both laid it on, and they went to the judges because there wasn’t a clear winner.”
In other action, Isaac Worth of Lihue lost to Roland Dunlap of California via referee stoppage in a 205-pound amateur MMA bout.
Worth found himself on the bottom of ground position, and Dunlap landed several hammerfists until the ref intervened.
“Honest to God, my specialty is leg locks. I love doing them. That’s my thing,” Worth said. “I almost had him twice. I feel like I wasn’t quick enough on the attack. I kind of stood there and took damage when I probably should not have. I should have kept moving.”
He added: “In a very morbid sort of way, it’s good for me to know that I can take hits like that to the body and to the head and still keep moving, however slow I may be at that time.”
In women’s fight action, Jodi Poouahi-Cummings defeated Angela Bubonal via referee stoppage.
Poouahi-Cummings, representing Maui Martial Arts, got Bubonal on the fence and kept throwing punches to the head until the referee stepped in for her first win in MMA.
“The ref had told her to cover up. That’s why I wasn’t really trying, maybe, a knee I could have done against the cage,” Poouahi-Cummings said. “I figured if I kept trying to be aggressive with the hands, he would probably stop it. It didn’t happen in the first round. It didn’t really happen in the second round. I don’t know. I just went for it. The third time, I was like, ‘He has to stop it if I push her towards that goal of giving up.’”
The moment was emotional, she added, because her father died two years ago, and her background music was a recording of him singing.
“They played it right after I won. That just blew me away,” Poouahi-Cummings said. “It was just so perfect to have this, and at sunset. You know?”
150-pound pro MMA: Zach Zane (Maui JJ, Central Maui Boxing) def. Fatu Tuitasi (Kauai Boxing), submission
135-pound amateur MMA belt: Kaylan Gorospe (HMC Oahu) def. Frank P.J. Miranda (PJ Miranda Maui), split decision
125-pound pro MMA: Tycen Lynn (C3 Fighters-Seattle) def. Ryan Tampon (Monsta MMA), submission
155-pound amateur MMA belt: Jordan Timbal (Outlaw MMA Las Vegas) def. David McKinney (Vital MMA-Hilo), referee stoppage
145-pound amateur MMA: Swayne Lunasco (HI Bred-Oahu) def. Petey Vital (Vital MMA-Hilo), submission
145-pound amateur MMA: P.J. Lumabao-Espanto (HFA Kauai) def. Brandon Fraser (808 Fight Factory), submission
160-pound amateur MMA: Chai Kimura (Boars Nest Kauai) def. Lopaka Lono (808 Top Team), unanimous decision
205-pound amateur MMA: Roland Dunlap (Fight Strong-HB Fight Club, California) def. Isaac Worth (Lions MMA-Kauai), referee stoppage
125-pound amateur MMA: Pololu Nakanelua (Maui Martial Arts) def. Taylor Mamiya (Bulls Pen), referee stoppage
115-pound amateur women’s MMA: Jodi Poouahi-Cummings (Maui Martial Arts) def. Angela Rubonal (Bulls Pen), referee stoppage
125-pound amateur women’s MMA: Brianne Jhun (808 Top Team Oahu) def. Talor Kebel (Bellingham MMA, Washington), unanimous decision
120-pound amateur kickboxing: Kelii Alcos (K-PAL Boxing) def. Cody Lasconia (O2MAA), unanimous decision
175-pound amateur kickboxing: Cody Santos (Bulls Pen) def. Brandon Wong (Freelance Kauai), referee stoppage