From a Pro Elite press release in my inbox:
LOS ANGELES (Feb. 9, 2008) – One of the toughest-talking, hardest-fighting, most colorful competitors in Mixed Martial Arts, Phil “The New York Bad Ass’’ Baroni, has signed a multi-year contract with Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s Live Fight Division, EliteXC.
“You know any Jersey boy like me likes a ‘New York Bad Ass’ and Phil’s definitely as bad as they come,’’ said EliteXC Live Events President, Gary Shaw, who made the announcement Saturday. “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.’’
Baroni’s next fight is March 15 on the EliteXC Hawaii-based Icon Sport promotion. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
EliteXC’s middleweight division may possibly be the deepest middleweight division in mixed martial arts right now with the likes of Riki Fukuda, Robbie Lawler, Murilo Rua, David Louiseau, and Kala Kolohe Hose. Great addition to the ranks for EliteXC. This probably also means that the rumored fight between Baroni and Sanae Kikuta at World Victory Road’s inaugural Sengoku event on March 5th is off.
UPDATE: Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer is reporting that Baroni will fight Kala Kolohe Hose at the ICON Sport event on March 15th for the vacant ICON Sport middleweight title. Robbie Lawler was stripped of the title due to an inability to defend it.
Here’s a video interview of Baroni right after the announcement: