In a sensational main event on a spectacular cage fight card this Saturday, Sept. 15 at Blaisdell Arena on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast), talented, exciting Murilo “Ninja” Rua will make his first EliteXC middleweight title defense against hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing ICON Sport titleholder, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.
So who is going to triumph in the featured attraction in “Uprising’’—the biggest MMA event in the history of Hawaii and the initial collaboration between Los Angeles-based ProElite’s respected live fight division, EliteXC, and Hawaii-based promoters and former rivals, ICON Sport and ROTR (Rumble On The Rock) and Showtime?
The experts expect what figures to be a hotly contested five round, 5-minute fight to be close. Of the 11 MMA media sorts who participated in an EliteXC/SHOWTIME Prediction Poll, seven picked Rua and four took Lawler. Here’s how they see the evenly matched Rua-Lawler EliteXC title fight:
Scott White, MMAonTap.com, (Lawler): “Lawler has shown improved cardio in his past few fights along with excellent power and striking skills. He will prove to be too much for Ninja on the feet and will score a stoppage via strikes partway through the second.’‘
David M Singer, MMAonTap.com, (Lawler): “Each fighter is coming into this fight on a three-fight winning streak. Lawler’s last couple fights going long give him the recent experience he’ll need in a fight that has the potential to go past round three. Lawler wins by late KO/TKO.’’
John Chandler, MMAonTap.com, (Lawler): “Both Lawler and Rua have a solid chance to win. It is going to come down to the fighter that is able to impose his will on the other. Rua has the obvious advantage on the ground and he would be smart to take the fight there early and often. Lawler sports the better striking ability, but Rua showed in his last fight against Joey Villasenor (Pictures) that his hands are to be feared as well. Ultimately, I think that the temptation to stand and trade with Lawler will be Rua’s downfall. Lawler wins by KO.’’
Todd Martin, SI.com, (Rua): “Ninja will have to be careful to avoid Lawler’s explosive punching power, but if he can do that he should be in good shape. Ninja possesses more tools than Lawler, and looks refocused and rededicated to MMA. I see him winning via TKO in the second or third round.’‘
Gary Herman, 15rounds.com, (Rua): “Ninja will be too big for Lawler to overpower. Therefore, Rua will dictate where the fight goes, and Rua is much better on the ground then the slugging Lawler. Rua wins by second-round submission.’‘
Jatinder Dhoot, The MMA Digest, (Lawler): “Both fighters are on a roll, winning three straight and finishing all of their opponents. Rua is dangerous in all areas, but Lawler is coming into this fight with loads of momentum, picking up the biggest win of his career over Frank Trigg (Pictures) via KO in his last bout. The fact that Lawler was pushed into the fourth round was a good experience for him, and will serve him well if this battle with Rua moves into the championship rounds. Lawler may be relocating to Matt Hughes (Pictures)’ new academy in Illinois, but as long as that shift is not a distraction and he’s completely focused and in peak condition, he should be able to translate his much heralded skill and power into a victory.’‘
Ann Marie Lynch, MMA Today, (Rua): “Ninja wins by KO. Lawler’s not even in the same class as this kid, who is, in short, an outstanding fighter.’‘
Holli Yargo Hearne, Fight News Unlimited, (Rua): “Rua will win if Lawler doesn’t come prepared with excellent takedowns defense and sharp submission defense. Both are outstanding fighters but I see Rua winning by submission.’‘
Steven Hay, MMAFighting, (Rua): “Rua is well-rounded and has the style that should be able to neutralize Lawler’s game, but you can never count Lawler out—he’s one of the most serious threats when it comes to knockouts.’‘
Casey Trowbridge, Combat-Hooligans, (Rua): “I’m looking forward to this fight. It will be exciting and really could go either way. Both are tremendous fighters and neither winning would be a shock. Rua, however, is better on the ground and his standup is better than he’s given credit. Rua wins by third-round submission.’‘
Nick Solomon, Jabsngrabs.com (Rua): “Lawler-Rua should be a great fight as they are both young, aggressive fighters, who want to prove that they are the best in their weight class. The winner will be the one who can get the other to fight the fight that suits them best. If Lawler can get Rua to stand in the center and trade, it could be a very bad night for Ninja and Lawler will likely return to Iowa with two titles in tow. However, if Rua can play the striking game long enough to catch Lawler off guard, the Brazilian might be able to secure a takedown, and then apply a submission hold for the victory. Intuition tells me that Ninja is going back to Brazil with two belts. However, it might just be Lawler’s time. That’s what makes this sport so great: you never know who is going to have their hand raised at the end of the night.’’