When Kai Kamaka III makes his return to fighting at July 31 at LFA 87 in Sioux Falls, S.D., he’ll be doing so for those who came before and after him.
Kamaka is a second generation mixed martial artist, following in the footsteps of his father, Kai Kamaka Jr., and uncles Ray Cooper and Ronald Jhun.
“It’s very special. We were exposed to it at such a young age,” Kai Kamaka III told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “We kind of took that on like once we seen it, I just thought from the beginning that was gonna be my life.”
As much as he wants to honor his upbringing by being a successful fighter, Kamaka also fights with his current family in mind. That’s why following his LFA fight, he will relocate to Las Vegas on an open-ended basis in order to train and remain ready in hopes that he can make himself available as a replacement fighter for organizations such as the UFC.
“In the beginning, it was kind of like ‘Oh, it’s kind of, nothing’s guaranteed.’ But at the same time, what is guaranteed in life, you know? Not even tomorrow,” he said. “I’m doing this with a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old that’s about to turn 2 and I have one on the way in October.
“When it gets hard to get up for a workout or when I want to just rest, those are the times that I think ‘this is bigger than me.’ There’s nothing comfortable about it with my kids but this is for them.”
Kai Kamaka III (6-2) is still relatively young for an MMA fighter at 25 years old but has already bounced around to a handful of different fight organizations. His featherweight bout against Michael Stack (4-0) will be his Legacy Fighting Alliance Debut.
It’s Kamaka’s first fight since a unanimous decision victory over Spencer Higa in the undercard of Bellator 236 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center last December. He has also fought for the KOTC (King of the Cage), PXC (Pacific X-treme Combat) and Destiny organizations. Kamaka was meant to fight Colin Wright in a Fury Fighting Championship bout on May 22 in Humble, Texas, but it got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kamaka has stayed in tip-top shape during quarantine, training with close family friends such as Ray Cooper, the current PFL welterweight champion. Kamaka believes training with fighters of Cooper’s caliber will make him ready for anyone.
“Personally, I feel like I am ready for anything and in order to do that, I have to be willing to fight anybody,” Kamaka said. “I have to be ready to make weight whenever. If they call today and I’m not ready and I say ‘No, I can’t make weight’ then that’s on me. I don’t really fear anything. I gotta wrestle with Blake Cooper, I gotta spar Ray Cooper, those are some scary feats right there so I feel like I’m ready for anything, especially somebody that’s 145 pounds right now.”
Kamaka’s fight against Stack will be streamed on UFC Fight pass, with the card stream starting at 3 p.m. HST. He’s fully embracing the ‘Fighting Hawaiian’ nickname given to him as a wrestler at Midland University in Nebraska, tattooing a symbol on the left side of his chest that he has promoted with the local line Farmers Market Clothing Company. Come Friday, he hopes to live up to the moniker while building his reputation as another prominent fighter to come out of the islands.
“It stuck with me because I just tried to represent Hawaii to the best of my ability,” Kamaka said. “I want to carry the Hawaiian spirit in fighting and in life in general. I hope I can live up to it.”