MMA runs in this family
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Mixed martial arts in Hawai'i will officially span a generation tonight.
Wai'anae siblings David "Bubba" Pa'aluhi and Raquel Pa'aluhi will fight in separate bouts on the undercard of tonight's X-1 World Events "Nations Collide" card at the Blaisdell Center Arena.
It comes 14 years after their father, Kawika Pa'aluhi, won a tournament at SuperBrawl 1 — the first MMA event ever staged in Hawai'i.
"I wouldn't say I steered them into MMA, it's just they were always in the gym when they were little and I was training, so they were always around it," Kawika said. "I steered them into wrestling when they were in high school, but it was more their choice to get into MMA."
Bubba will face Chivas Antoque in an amateur heavyweight bout. Raquel will make her professional debut against Jenny Trujillo in the only female bout on the card.
Bubba's bout is being staged under amateur rules because he is still an NCAA athlete.
He was a starting linebacker on the Oregon State football team as a junior last season, and finished second on the team in tackles. He said he will enroll at the University of Hawai'i, and is awaiting a decision from the NCAA on whether he will be eligible to play for the Warriors in either 2010 or 2011.
He said he usually spends his summers training in MMA as a way to stay in shape for football.
"When it's football season, I focus on that," Bubba said. "This is just something to do in the meantime."
In any case, he is considered a potential pro player in two sports — football and MMA.
"If I can get drafted in the NFL someday, that would be good," said Bubba, 21. "If not, I'll train (for MMA)."
Raquel, 19, has already decided to chase a dream of professional MMA. Her father calls it a "10-year plan" that would be highlighted by a contract with a major international organization.
"About a year ago, she asked me what would it take to make a career out of MMA and I told her it would take a lot of hard work, a 10-year plan," Kawika said. "But that's her goal now, and she wants to get to Strikeforce."
The Strikeforce organization features the world's top female MMA fighters.
"The sport is looking for women right now, so I hope it's a step in the right direction for me," Raquel said.
The Pa'aluhis train together at the Hakuilua Training Center in Wai'anae, which is run by Kawika Pa'aluhi and his friends.
When there is a lack of training partners, Bubba and Raquel often wrestle against each other — just like when they were kids.
"Oh, he never goes easy — ground and pound, everything," Raquel said.
Kawika serves as their coach.
"We're lucky to have my dad there all the time," Raquel said. "He taught us a lot in this sport, and he's still teaching us."
The main event of tonight's card will feature Kailua's Brandon Wolff defending his X-1 welterweight world championship against former Maui resident Dylan Clay.
Wolff and Clay both made the 170-pound limit at yesterday's official weigh-ins.
Another highlight of the card is an eight-man tournament in the light-heavyweight (205 pounds) division. The quarterfinals will be staged tonight, with the semifinals scheduled for September, then the final in November.
The tournament features fighters from Hawai'i, Arizona, California, Russia, Korea and Japan. The Hawai'i fighters in the tournament are Po'ai Suganuma of the Big Island and Adam Akau of Maui.
In another anticipated heavyweight bout, Japan's Satoshi Ishii will face Mile Tynanes of 'Ewa Beach. Ishii won a gold medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics.
170 pounds (X-1 championship): Brandon Wolff vs. Dylan Clay. Light-heavyweight (205 pounds) tournament quarterfinals: Po'ai Suganuma vs. Greg Schmitt; Adam Akau vs. Roy Boughton; Vitaly Shemetov vs. Shungo Oyama; Sang Soo Lee vs. Daniel Madrid. 135 (state title): Russell Doane vs. Riley Dutro. 145: Justin Mercado vs. Ed Newalu. 145: Ricky Wallace vs. Toru Harai. 135 (females): Raquel Pa'aluhi vs. Jenny Trujillo. 135: Jesse Thornton vs. Timothy Meeks. Heavyweight: Satoshi Ishii vs. Miles Tynanes. Heavyweight (amateurs): Bubba Pa'aluhi vs. Chivas Antoque. 145: Brensen Hansen vs. Wayland Crenio. 145: Dustin Kimura vs. Kazuki Kenjo. 145: Chad Pavao vs. Spencer Higa. 135: Van Shiroma vs. Dwayne Haney.