Miami, FL (USA): Shine Fights is pleased to announce the official signing of a bout between former world champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua (17-10-1) and tough Hawaiian fighter Falaniko “Niko” Vitale (26-9). The bout will take place at a yet-to-be announced Shine Fights III event, which is tentatively scheduled for spring 2010.
Ninja and Niko are both well-known to casual and hardcore MMA fans. Rua was a PRIDE mainstay, fighting in Japan’s premier MMA organization a total of 13 times, and his brother is UFC light heavyweight contender Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Vitale is noted for his time in the UFC, where he defeated Matt “The Law” Lindland, as well as his experience in StrikeForce.
In addition, both fighters share a common opponent in “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, and both have battled top MMA competition. This will be a huge fight for the combatants, as a victory will help propel the winner towards bigger and better fights, while the loser will head back to the drawing board.
Born and raised in Curitiba, Brazil, Rua is the brother of UFC light heavyweight contender Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Ninja began his career in his home country, running off four straight stoppage wins. His impressive beginning to his career earned him a call from Japan, and he soon began to make a name for himself as an athlete that finishes fights.
After his time in PRIDE, Ninja moved to England’s Cage Rage promotion, before making his way to the United States. Since then, he has competed in both EliteXC and StrikeForce, while still making appearances in Japan, England, and his native Brazil.
Over the course of his nine year career, he has faced many of the top fighters in MMA, including PRIDE/UFC veteran Akihiro Gono, former PRIDE Middleweight and Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson, former PRIDE contenders Sergei Kharitonov and Ricardo Arona, StrikeForce fighters Benji Radach and Kevin Randleman, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, former WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Fihlo, UFC fighter Denis Kang, Japanese fighter Riki Fukuda, and the aforementioned Lawler.
Ninja has defeated notables such as Mario Sperry, Alex Stiebling, Mark Weir, Xavier Foupa- Pokam, and Joey Villasenor, who he beat for the EliteXC Welterweight Championship belt. 15 of his 17 wins have come either KO/TKO or submission, and he always puts on a show for the fans, win or lose. And Ninja expects to continue to show that in his fight with Vitale:
“I’ll try to impose my game and come out with a great win, so I can start off [my career with] Shine Fights in the right way. I’ll always try to give great performances, making it for great spectacles for my fans and if God helps, try to win a belt, which will certainly be another great dream for me.”
What separates him from his opponent? “My pace, my cardio and my will to enter the cage and look for the win all the time!”
And Ninja has a message for the fans: “I would like to first of all thank all the fans, and tell them that I’ll be there [at Shine III], with a great appetite to seek the win for me and my family. I’ll be even more motivated cause I’m going to be a father for the second time, so I need this win badly! If God helps me, this will be a great gift for me and my family. Finally, I want to thank Shine Fights for the effort of promoting our sport and giving me this chance of being part of it!”
Hawaii native Niko Vitale is an experienced athlete who recently celebrated ten years as a professional fighter. He represents the 808 Fight Factory, one of the toughest fight gyms on the Islands, and has fought for some of the most well-known promotions in the world. Fans of King of the Cage, Rage in the Cage, SuperBrawl, Icon Sport, the IFL, StrikeForce, and the UFC have all seen his skill set exhibited.
As with Ninja, Niko has taken on top names in the sport, including Lawler, recent StrikeForce Middleweight title challenger Jason “Mayhem” Miller, MMA pioneer Jeremy Horn, StrikeForce/UFC veteran Trevor Prangley, and UFC fighter Frank Trigg. He has beaten notable fighters such as UFC vet Aaron Riley, former UFC Middleweight Champion Dave Menne, UFC middleweight contender Yushin Okami, and the aforementioned Lindland. And he plans on adding Ninja to his list:
“We match up well in this fight. We have similar styles: we both like to fight on the ground. I haven’t seen him fight on his feet all that much, but I’m sure I’m better there. I think I have what it takes to beat him. I’ll be stronger on the ground, and stronger in my standup.”
While Vitale has respect for his opponent, he’s ready to prove himself. “I’ve been waiting for a big win over a big opponent, and I consider Ninja to be a big-time opponent.”
But for Niko, the bottom line is putting on a show for the Shine fans. “Expect this fight to be really good, really explosive. We’re both extremely experienced, and we’ve both knocked out and submitted guys. It’s going to be a great fight to watch.”
“MMA fans better be ready for this one,” said matchmaker Ron Foster. “Ninja and Niko are going to throw down. There’s a lot at stake here, and we expect fans to benefit.”