Vitale Submits Starnes at ‘Champions 2’

By James Meinhardt Mar 21, 2010
HONOLULU -- After a 16-month layoff from the sport, Falaniko Vitale was victorious in his return, as he submitted UFC castoff Kalib Starnes with a front choke just 2:22 into the first round in the X-1 World Events “Champions 2” main event on Saturday at the Blaisdell Arena.

Starnes started off strong, as he scooped up the X-1 middleweight champion and deposited him on the canvas in the opening minutes of the bout.

“I know I got a few takedowns there. I felt like it was easy to take him down,” Starnes said. “I feel like I could have kept doing that over and over again.”

However, after the second successful takedown, the Hawaiian found a way to turn the tables. With Starnes standing over him, Vitale grabbed the Canadian’s ankle and tripped him to the ground. From there, “Niko” quickly assumed top position.

“Once I get somebody in side control, I know I have him,” Vitale said. “I was trying to go for a crucifix, trying to land some punches, and that didn’t work out. Then he put me in half guard and I applied the hammer choke, and I was fortunate to get him.”

The somewhat unorthodox choke quickly coaxed a tapout from Starnes. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 semi-finalist had never before been submitted.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever been submitted in a fight,” he said. “It was just a tight pin, and he got a front choke. He was starting to slide it on, and usually those front chokes aren’t very effective; you can just peel them off. I didn’t feel like I was in much danger. Just the way he slid it in with the back of his hand -- and he has big arms -- and the way he laid on it with his shoulder, I wasn’t able to peel it off.”

Though he was victorious, not all ended well for Vitale. Upon returning to his feet after he had won the fight, the Hawaiian grabbed his knee in pain and fell back to the mat.

“I think [I injured my knee] during the celebration,” he said. “I had hurt my knee a few weeks ago and then re-injured it on Monday.”

With a scheduled showdown against Pride Fighting Championships veteran and former EliteXC middleweight titleholder veteran Murilo “Ninja” Rua looming at a Shine Fights event on May 16, Vitale remains optimistic.

“It might have been some meniscus. I don’t think I tore my ACL,” he said. “I’m going to see what happens on Monday when I evaluate the injury. If it’s just a little tear, I’ll be straight for Ninja.”

In the co-main event, Harris Sarmiento took a controversial split decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 alum Richie Whitson.

The two lightweights battled for five rounds, with Whitson pushing the pace with his takedowns and boxing. However, it was the power punches of Sarmiento that damaged Whitson’s face and ultimately earned him the favor of two out of the three ringside judges.

“The crowd booed. They thought I won,” Whitson said. “But it happens, you know. You leave it up to the judges, and it can go either way.”

Meanwhile, Dave Moreno captured the X-1 featherweight crown, as he took the back of Kurrent Cockett and flattened him out before sinking the tap-inducing rear-naked coke 3:30 into the second frame.

The X-1 bantamweight title was also on the line, as Bryson Hansen defeated Riley Dutro by split decision. The unbeaten Hansen remains perfect through five professional bouts.

Finally, Sengoku veteran and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii made quick work of Sasae Paogofie in an exhibition match, as he submitted him with a kimura in 2:49.

Other Bouts
Sadhu Bott def. Matt Comeau -- TKO (Shoulder Injury) 3:24 R2
Russell Doane def. Timothy Meeks -- Submission (Triangle Choke) 1:28 R2
Bryson Kamaka def. Michael Brightmon -- KO (Knee) 0:09 R1
Koa Ramos def. Joe Verbeetan -- KO (Punch) 0:34 R1
Mike Winkelspecht def. Brennan Kamaka -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 1:21 R1
Herman Santiago def. Chris Kyle -- Submission (Triangle Choke) 2:51 R1
Jesse Thornton def. Jay Bolos -- Unanimous Decision
Raquel Paaluhi def. Lani Fauhiva -- TKO (Punches) 1:03 R2
Falo Faaloloto def. John Cruz -- Submission (Armbar) 2:34 R1
Van Shiroma def. Joe Gogo -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2:01 R1
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