Coming off of nearly a year and a half lay-off, “The People’s Champion” Falaniko Vitale (26-9 MMA) is all set to make his return to the MMA scene in defense of his X-1 middleweight belt this Saturday against UFC veteran and TUF alum, Kalib Starnes (14-4-1 MMA).
FiveOunceofPain.com had the chance to catch up with Vitale at the X-1 “Champions II” press conference at Dave and Buster’s in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In preparation for his upcoming title defense, Vitale hinted that he has been working on his ground game a little more than he has in the past.
When asked about his opponent Vitale said “I haven’t seen him [Starnes] fight much… Kalib will come to fight.”
There’s a good chance that Vitale hasn’t had the chance to study the bout between Starnes and Nate Quarry.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Vitale looks forward to his return to action in fron of his hometown fans, stating, “I always enjoy fighting in front of the fans and the family and friends.”
“I like competing here [Hawaii] all the time ‘cause when I go to the mainland I always get screwed,” said Vitale, eluding to his last fight where he lost a controversial decision to Frank Trigg.
The now 35 year old veteran of the fight game says that he is in great shape and ready for his bout with Starnes.
“I’m still the same person; I still compete the same…I’ll be ready” Vitale said.
He also indicated that some “big things may happen in the future” if he comes out of this bout victorious.
There is speculation that Vitale will join the Strikeforce middleweight roster sometime soon, and a victory this evening will be pivotal in building his case to join the promotion.
When asked how the fight will end, the champ said with a big grin “first round TKO.”