In a rematch of a fight that demanded one, promising, once-beaten light heavyweights Poâ€™ai Suganuma (9-1) of Hilo, Hawaii, and Jared Hamman (10-1) of San Bernardino, Calif., will clash in the main event on ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series Friday, Aug. 15, live on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) at Table Mountain Casino at Friant, Calif.
Suganuma handed Hamman his lone loss in a controversial fight that lasted all of 15 seconds in the main event last April 5 at the Table Mountain Casino on ShoXC.
ShoXC, an EliteXC presentation that pits developing fighters in tough match ups, is a springboard for the future stars and champions of EliteXC. ShoXC is patterned after the popular SHOWTIME boxing series ShoBox: The New Generation.
Tickets, priced at $50 (General Admission), $60 (Reserved), $70 (Gold) and $80 (VIP), are available at the Main Casino Cage at Table Mountain Casino. They also can be purchased online at www.tmcasino.com/tickets.html. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. First live fight is at 5:30 p.m. PT.
In other SHOWTIME fights, Fabricio â€œMorangoâ€ Camoes (10-4) of San Diego meets Sam â€œThe Squeezeâ€ Morgan (19-10) of St. Paul, Minn., at 160 pounds; Muay Thai striking specialist Cyrille â€œThe Snakeâ€ Diabate (14-6-1) of France will make his EliteXC debut against ShoXC veteran Jaime Fletcher (9-3) of San Bernardino, Calif., at 205 pounds; and for the first time ever, EliteXC will showcase a title fight from one its sister organizations, King of the Cage, when KOTC middleweight champion Keith â€œKO Kidâ€™â€™ Berry (7-2) of Las Vegas by way of Murrieta, Calif., takes on Ray Lizama (5-5) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Also on SHOWTIME, EliteXC will introduce a new womenâ€™s weight class (130 pounds) when one of the few true pioneers of womenâ€™s mixed martial arts, Debi Purcell (4-1) of Laguna Hills, Calif., faces Cage Warriors champion Rosi Sexton (8-1) of Manchester, England.
Non-televised bouts: Promising, exciting Melanie LaCroix (1-0) of Los Angeles vs. Katrina Alendale (0-2) of San Francisco at 140 pounds; Ralph Lopez (3-0) of Fresno, Calif., vs. Roberto Vargas (2-0) of San Bernardino at 150 pounds; Josh Rave (8-4) of Fresno vs. Jesse Brock (6-3) of Sacramento at 140 pounds; Mike Moreno (3-2) of Fresno vs. Lucas Gumaza (2-0) of Stockton, Calif., at 170 pounds; and Marcus Levesser (5-2) of Fresno vs. Josh McDonald (3-3) of San Francisco at 160 pounds.
The SHOWTIME and non-televised fights are scheduled for three, 5-minute rounds with the exception of Purcell-Sexton and LaCroix-Alendale, which are slated for three, 3-minute rounds. Fans can watch pre- and post-fight interviews only at ProElite.com. Fighter pages are below.
Suganuma had landed a nasty overhand right, followed by a flying knee combination that rocked and floored Hamman. But a moment before he could pounce and land what potentially might have been the finishing blow, or blows, he was pulled off by the referee and declared a TKO winner.
The generally gentleman-like Hamman was lived afterward. â€œI donâ€™t know what happened or why it was stopped,â€™â€™ he said. â€œI wasnâ€™t hurt and felt completely fine. I wanted to keep fighting. I felt I could keep fighting. I donâ€™t make excuses. I absolutely want a rematch if he wants to give me one.â€™â€™
Suganuma was quick to oblige. â€œNobody likes to win by controversial decision,â€™â€™ he said. â€œI thought I had him dazed but I donâ€™t think he was completely out. I was a little surprised the ref did what he did but only because I wanted to hit Hamman again. If he wants to fight again, letâ€™s do it. Iâ€™m down.â€
Hamman has won all 10 of his MMA fights by stoppage â€“ eight by TKO and two by submission. A college football coach at the University of Redlands (Calif.) and former football star at California Atascadero High, Hamman has yet to have a fight enter the third round.
Suganuma majored in computer science in college. After moving to Japan in late 2004, where he worked as a singer, ukulele player and English teacher, Suganuma became interested in wrestling.
An avid weight-lifter, he won a grappling competition and, then, after a month of training, made his MMA debut. He won his first five before losing a fight stopped due to cuts in August 2006. Suganuma returned shortly thereafter to Hilo, his hometown, to train with BJ Penn. He has gone 4-0 since.
The winner of the Suganuma-Hamman rematch could wind up fighting Rafael Feijao, who has looked like a one-man wrecking crew since joining EliteXC.
Camoes, who has won five in a row, was sensational in his EliteXC and United States debut last April 5 at Table Mountain Casino. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu making his first start since Oct. 7, 2006, he scored a scintillating 3:30, first-round TKO (strikes) over Joe Camacho on ShoXC.
â€œI didnâ€™t think it would end that fast,â€™â€™ said the talented Camoes, who once went 27 minutes with Anderson Silva before losing. â€œIâ€™m very happy. I wanted to give a spectacular showing. I came to the U.S. to fight for the belt. I look forward to fighting anybody that will get me closer to achieving my goal.â€™â€™
Morgan has made a career of re-inventing himself. Fansâ€™ jaws dropped when he stopped Duane Ludwig in the first round in April 2005, and now heâ€™ll try to regain his winning ways after losing his last pair to world-class Paul â€œSemtexâ€ Daley and Cung Le in January 2008 and November 2007, respectively.
A hard-trying former welterweight and competitor on â€œThe Ultimate Fighter 2,â€ Morgan won the first two minutes against Daley before losing by first-round TKO and he showed great heart against Le and caught and rocked Le, the Strikeforce champion, a few times before losing by third-round TKO.
â€œIâ€™ll be ready,â€™â€™ said Morgan, who got into MMA â€œto help vent some off my life issues. I just kept doing it. I want to fight all the top name guys. I’m not scared of any of them. I still feel I’m getting better all the time. Every fight for me is all or nothing. This will be a very good and interesting fight. â€™â€™
Purcell, whoâ€™s as responsible as anybody for helping put womanâ€™s MMA on the map, and the talented Sexton recently signed multi-fight deals with EliteXC.
They join a group of EliteXC female fighters that includes, among others, Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, Tonya Evinger, Shayna Baszler, Julie Kedzie, Kaitlin Young and LaCroix.
Long regarded as one of the worldâ€™s toughest women and one of a few to hold a black belt in Ruas Vale Tudo, Purcell has trained in fitness and MMA for more than 20 years, with competitive experience also in submission grappling, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Tae Kwon Do and gymnastics.
Purcell was the first woman to compete and win in King of the Cage, headlined the first-ever all female NHB card in the U.S., owns a win in Hook N Shoot, was an Ultimate Wrestler world title belt-holder and was the first and only female coach in the International Fight League (IFL).
On the recent popularity surge of womenâ€™s MMA, Purcell said, â€œItâ€™s awesome. Iâ€™ve been telling promoters for years what women could bring to the sport. Iâ€™ve always thought that if you brought in skilled women and put them on a fight card, it would bring in the fans. We come to fight, always give everything we have and itâ€™s always exciting. You never see a boring womenâ€™s fight.â€™â€™
The founder of fightergirls.com, Purcell will be making her first start since dropping a decision to Hitomi Akano at a Smackgirl event in Japan on Feb. 15, 2006.
Sexton, one of the most courted women in the game before signing with EliteXC, is fighting for the first time since scoring a second-round submission (armbar) over Julia Berezikova on Aug. 24, 2007.
â€œIt’s great to be involved with an international promotion of the caliber of EliteXC,” said Sexton, a submission ace who owns notable victories over Carina Damm and Tomomi “Windy Tomomi” Sunaba. â€œEliteXC has a very promising female division. I’m looking forward to fighting some of the top ones.â€™â€™
The much-admired Brit, a full-time mother and an osteopathy student, is keen to avenge the sole blemish on her record, a loss to Carano. â€œI would love a rematch with Gina,â€™â€™ Sexton said, â€œbut the weight would be an issue. My management tells me I’m too small to be fighting at 140 pounds.â€™â€™
Since her debut in 2002, Sexton has become a stalwart of the British scene. One of a few, popular mainstays in women’s game, she has earned international acclaim for her sprightly performances.
Diabate has won five of six, including a 1:15, first-round submission (armbar) over Ryan Robinson in his most recent outing on April 21, 2007. The Frenchman was supposed to make his U.S. debut in late December 2007, but broke an ankle during training. This is his first fight back.
â€œIt was the first time I’ve had to pull out of a fight,â€™â€™ said Diabate, whose only loss since July 2005 came to Mauricio â€œShogunâ€™â€™ Rua. â€œI was doing light sparring with takedown defense. One of my sparring partners did a takedown, trapping one of my legs at the same time. It was completely a fluke accident.â€™â€™
Fletcher will be making his third start in a row on ShoXC, where he 1-1. He earned an upset three-round unanimous decision over Aaron Rosa on March 21, 2008. In his outing before last, a fighter with decent submission abilities on the ground got submitted (armbar) by Giva Santana on Oct. 26, 2007.
Berry, 20, captured the KOTC middleweight belt at the age of 19 with a 2:05, first-round submission (triangle choke) over Sean Loeffler on Aug. 5, 2007. In his last outing, Berry, a former light heavy, submitted Omar Luv (strikes) on Dec. 2, 2007.
Lizama will be making his second ShoXC start. In his debut on Aug. 25, 2007, he came up on the wrong end of a close three-round decision to Chicagoâ€™s Hector Urbina in a tactical match in which both fighters gave their best.
â€œI like to fight guys who stand up in bang. Thatâ€™s my game. I want knockouts,â€™â€™ Lizama said. â€œBut with this guy, I had to concentrate more on defense. I thought the decision could have gone either way, but I canâ€™t complain. When you leave it in the hands of hands of the judges, anything can happen.â€
SHOWTIME announcer Mauro Ranallo will call the play-by-play for ShoXC with Stephen Quadros, The Fight Professor, serving as color analyst. The executive producer of ShoXC is David Dinkins, Jr. with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.