In his last three pro fights, Chad “Brahma Bull” Thomas has provided good entertainment value with three consecutive knockouts, pretty much making him the top heavyweight on the local mixed martial arts scene.
Thomas suffered his only defeat in his pro debut in 2012, falling to former Strikeforce heavyweight Lolohea Mahe on a Just Scrap card on Maui.
Since the loss to Mahe, Thomas really hasn’t been challenged. His fights have yet to go to a third round. No one has approached Mahe’s stature — until now.
In what is arguably the biggest fight of his pro career, Thomas (3-1) takes on former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco “Suave” Rodriguez (53-21) for the Just Scrap world title.
Rodriguez, 36, has fought in the biggest promotions in the world, including Pride, Elite XC, International Fight League, World Extreme Cagefighting and Bellator. He is also the former King of the Cage Openweight Superfight champion.
At UFC 32 in 2001 at New Jersey, Rodriguez made his UFC debut and had a TKO against Andrei Arlovski, who was formerly ranked the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Rodriguez posted three more victories and got a shot for the heavyweight title against Randy Couture at UFC 39. He got a tapout in the fifth round for the belt. Rodriguez lost in his first title defense to Tim Sylvia in the first round.
His last fight was a first-round TKO against Nestoras Batzelas in the Final Fight Championships 10 last December in Macedonia.
Rodriguez has fought all over the globe, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Brazil, Poland, Israel, Philippines, Mexico, Japan and Hawaii (Rumble on the Rock 7 in 2005).
He’s well-rounded as well. Rodriguez won gold, bronze and silver, respectively, at the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championship from 1998 to 2000. He’s also a former World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medalist.
The last time Thomas, a 1995 Waiakea graduate, fought was in November at Just Scrap in Kailua-Kona. He recorded a second-round knockout against Kyle Keeney from Texas.
In the co-main event, Hilo’s Shane “Suga” Nelson (15-7), battles Oahu’s Kaleo “Lights Out” Kwan (10-15), who’s on a five-match losing streak.
It’s a rubber match between the two. Kwan, 40, lost twice to Nelson, 29, at X-1 Events in 2008 and Punishment in Paradise in 2005. Both times were by decision.
Like “Suave” and “Lights Out,” it’s the Just Scrap debut for Nelson, who was in The Ultimate Fighter in 2008, and won his UFC debut against castmate George Roop in TUF 8 Finale.
At UFC 96 in 2009 in Ohio, Nelson pulled a first-round TKO against Aaron Riley, lost the rematch, and fell to Matt Winman by decision later that year.
Nelson was released from his UFC contract after UFC 107 in December 2009 in Tennessee.
His last official fight was a decision loss to Graham Spencer at Maximum Fighting Championships 35 in 2012 in Canada. Earlier that year, he lost by submission to Takasuke Kume at Shooto in Japan.
Just Scrap is also staging three amateur title fights.
At 170 pounds, it’s Scotty Hao vs. Kaeo Meyers for the championship.
In his last Just Scrap bout in February, Hao, a stand-up striker from Average Joe’s in Kona, defended his belt with a second-round submission against Brandon Libao.
At the same event, Meyers, in a 155 fight, defeated Chris Miranda by first-round rear-naked choke.
For the 135 title, it’s Petey Vital vs. Rob Midel.
Vital, out of Pahoa Boxing Gym, won the 135 belt at the last Just Scrap with a first-round knockout against Kanoa Akau.
At 135 pounds, it’s Russell Mizuguchi against Federico Vento for the belt.
Mizuguchi also won the title in the last Just Scrap with a decision against Maui Acantilado, running his amateur record to 6-0.
Vento, a 2013 Hilo graduate, was a wrestler and judoka for the Vikings. He got a rear-naked choke against Ikaika Rodrigues on that same Just Scrap card.