With the Aloha State being the home of the featherweight champion Max Holloway and the endless debate on whether or not the UFC will ever bring an event to the islands, many can’t help but reminisce on the golden era in Hawaii mixed martial arts.
Without a doubt from 1996 to 2008 it was Icon-Sport, previously known as SuperBrawl, that served as the biggest stage in the islands, with one of the most successful fighters from that brand being ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler.
The company’s first and only two-time Icon World Champion went on the become a UFC Welterweight Champion. At UFC 214 in Anaheim, Lawler likely fought his way back into the title picture with a decision victory over Donald Cerrone.
Recently, former Icon-Sport President T. Jay Thompson sold the extensive fight library of over 54-events and close to 500 fights to the UFC for an undisclosed amount, allowing fans around the world to relive the ‘iconic’ Icon moments on demand on the UFC Fight Pass app, assuring that the unforgettable era will live on forever.
“Well, it wasn’t an easy decision. I did feel like maybe I was giving up a part of myself and you know, the more I gave it that thought, it wasn’t going to do anybody any good sitting in a storage locker somewhere. I really feel like it’s nice to make sure that it’s shared and make sure that the history that we have here in Hawaii, that again, I think Icon-Sport, I was a small part of what Icon Sport was, with all the great fighters, the fans, everyone that was apart of that era in mixed martial arts, they deserve to have that product out for the world to see,” Thompson told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello recently.
Over the years, Icon was a proving ground for many future stars in the sport. Future UFC Hall of Famer Vitor Belfort made his pro MMA debut at the Neal Blaisdell Center defeating Jon Hess by first round knockout in SuperBrawl 2 in October of 1996.
The list of future UFC Champions goes beyond Belfort with Matt Hughes, Rich Franklin, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, Pete Williams, Pat Miletich, Dan Severn, and Jens Pulver. While countless future worldwide MMA stars stepped into the Icon ring as well, including former ICON-Sport Champion Frank Trigg, two weight class champ Jason “Mayhem” Miller, along with the likes of Takanori Gomi, Cabbage Correia, Brad Tavares, Russell Doane, and Falaniko Vitale.
“That’s the beauty of [this]. People can talk about where the sport has gone and I have my own opinions on what the UFC is about, but there is no doubt that they know how to get the message out to the masses, and by having it on Fight Pass, by having the UFC promote Icon, it’s guaranteed that it will live forever now, and again that’s a testament to everyone that was involved,” said Thompson.
To watch the many memorable moments from the Icon-Sport organization, CLICK HERE to access the UFC Fight Pass page.
For a list of all of the SuperBrawl/Icon-Sport events, matches, and fighters CLICK HERE.
SUPERBRAWL/ICON SPORT ALUMNI – UFC CHAMPIONS
- Josh Barnett
- Tim Sylvia
- Frank Shamrock
- Vitor Belfort
- Dave Menne
- Rich Franklin
- Pat Miletich (UFC Hall of Fame)
- Matt Hughes (UFC Hall of Fame)
- Robbie Lawler
- Dan Severn (UFC Hall of Fame)
- Jerry Bohlander
- Kendall Grove (The Ultimate Fighter Season 3)