Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Lawler No. 8 in world

By Dayton Morinaga

A spectacular knockout last week put Iowa's Robbie Lawler into the top 10 of the world rankings in the middleweight division of mixed martial arts this week. Lawler defeated Frank Trigg by a fourth-round knockout Saturday at the Blaisdell Arena to reclaim the Icon Sport organization's middleweight championship.

In the world rankings released yesterday by MMA Weekly, Lawler is ranked No. 8, and Trigg is No. 10. The middleweight division is for fighters in the 185-pound class.

"I think it reinforces the fact that we have some of the best 185-pound fighters in the world competing right here in Hawai'i," Icon Sport president T. Jay Thompson said.

The rankings are based on votes from the staff of MMA Weekly, which covers mixed martial events around the world.

Lawler, who improved to 14-4, is expected to defend his Icon Sport title June 30 at the Blaisdell Arena.

"Robbie still has three fights left on his contract with us," Thompson said. "The plan is for him to headline the next card (on June 30), but the hard part will be figuring out his opponent."

Candidates include Trigg, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, and Renato "Charuto" Verissimo.

"If there was ever an argument for an immediate rematch, this was it," Thompson said. "The heroic effort that Frank Trigg put out certainly earned him another shot. But there's also the argument that Jason Miller and Charuto have earned their shots as well, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out."

Miller defeated Lawler last September for the Icon Sport championship. Trigg then beat Miller for the title in December.

Trigg, who is 15-6, was taken to a nearby hospital and diagnosed with a concussion after Saturday's fight.

"What happens next with Trigg is his option, but he told me on Sunday that he wants to fight again, so I think we'll see him in the Icon ring again, for sure," Thompson said.

Hilo's BJ Penn is ranked No. 3 in the world in the welterweight division (170 pounds) of the latest MMA Weekly rankings.

UFC champion Georges St. Pierre of Canada is No. 1, and former champ Matt Hughes of Illinois is No. 2.

Penn is the only Hawai'i-based fighter currently ranked in the top 10 of any division.

For the next three months, Penn will be one of the coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter 5" reality television series on Spike TV. The first episode is scheduled to air tomorrow at 7 p.m. (Hawai'i time).

Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove of Maui will face Alan Belcher of Arkansas on the undercard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship event Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Grove is 9-3, and Belcher is 9-2. The fight will be in the middleweight division (185 pounds).

Grove earned a contract in the prestigious UFC organization by winning "The Ultimate Fighter 3" reality series.

Saturday's card will be televised on pay-per-view. Georges St. Pierre will defend his welterweight championship against Matt Serra in the main event.


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