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EliteXC: Phil Baroni signs multi-fight contract and will fight Kala Kolohe Hose for Icon Sport title

Lawler Horse

"You know any Jersey boy like me likes a 'New York Bad Ass' and Phil's definitely as bad as they come. Phil is a promoter's dream. He's a character but also as courageous a fighter as I've been around. But what I truly love about him is he always comes not only to fight but to win and put on a show. He's a crowd-pleaser extraordinaire. This is a great addition to the EliteXC family and we are thrilled to sign him. Fans can expect to see Phil back in the cage and fighting his heart out very soon.''

Those were the words from EliteXC Live Events President, Gary Shaw, on Saturday as he announced the signing of Phil Baroni (10-8) to a multi-year contract with EliteXC.

Baroni's last fight was against Frank Shamrock in June of last year during the main event of a co-promotion between Strikeforce and EliteXC. Baroni showed a lot of heart in the fight, but was eventually choked unconscious.

After the loss, Baroni tested positive for Boldenone and Stanozolol -- both anabolic steroids. He appealed the $2,500 fine and the year-long suspension and was able to get the suspension reduced to six months.

"The New York Bad Ass" has now been cleared to fight and wasted no time signing with the up-and-coming promotion.

Here's what Baroni had to say about the signing:

""This is a great deal and opportunity. I appreciate EliteXC sticking with me and believing in me enough to sign me. I'm looking forward to returning to the cage and kicking (butt). Everybody knows I got hurt early and couldn't do everything I wanted to do against Shamrock. But I'm 100 percent now, ready for anybody. I pity the guy I fight next, or the one after that. Trust me, everybody is going to pay from here on out.''

The contract allows Baroni the freedom to still fight in Strikeforce, as well as the other promotions under the ProElite banner.

In fact, his first fight will be with the Hawaiian-based Icon Sport promotion, which is owned by ProElite. His opponent will be Kala Kolohe Hose for the vacant division title -- reigning titleholder, Robbie Lawler, was stripped of his strap because of injuries.

News of that decision came out at the same time as the Baroni announcement, opening up a great opportunity for the "NYBA" to capture the title.

Icon Sport President,TJ Thompson, stressed in a press release that the decision to strip Lawler was difficult but necessary.

Here's a snip from him:

"Last year was a rough year. For various illnesses and injuries Robbie Lawler pulled out of three Icon events in 2007. It's not fair. It's not fair to Icon Sport. Not fair to Kala Kolohe Hose who has been waiting nearly a year for his title shot. And, most importantly, it's not fair to our fans."

Lawler had this to say in his defense:

"I'm disappointed and upset. But I understand why this happening. In 2007 I did well when I was healthy. I took out Trigg and then I beat Ninja. I accept the decision, but I promise everyone that I will return. And I will get my belt back."

Definitely can't wait to see that -- "Ruthless" has looked great his last few times out. In the meantime, we'll be treated to a nice brawl on March 15. Neither Baroni or Hose are known for their prowess on the ground.

Get ready for some fireworks in the "Aloha State."

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