University of Hawaii soccer legend and Kahuku alumnus Natasha Kai is now trying her hand at mixed martial arts.
Kai, who is close friends and housemates with former Bellator champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, took up the sport on a whim with Macfarlane there to train and mentor her.
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What started off as joke turned into a new endeavor in which Kai has dedicated her training to.
“One night over dinner, I was joking around. I’m like, ‘You know, before I turned 40, I want to do an amateur flight, you know? And it it was it was a very faint maybe, but you put something in to outsiders head and they’re going to they’re guys going to run with it,” Kai recalled to KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “Fast forward a couple of months later, (Mcfarlane) came home with this smirk on her face and I was like, oh, God, what happened?’
‘She’s like, you know, these promoters contacted me, the promoters from Bellator, they’re looking for a 135 fighter. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’ Like, you know, who is going to fight? And she’s like, ‘Oh, you are.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ And she said, ‘Yeah. So I signed you up. You’re going to fight in four weeks.’
Kai had four weeks to get ready for her amateur fight debut. Despite the short notice, it was time used wisely as she won a unanimous decision over Ellen Kim at SSP 52 in a bantamweight bout on Jan. 7.
Kai, 39, achieved her goal of fighting before 40. She doesn’t currently have plans to turn pro, as she still has her own soccer program in the San Diego area to run. But she’s certainly glad she had the courage to try.
“I’ll take classes here and there. Nothing crazy. You know, I obviously still run my soccer program and my business here for soccer,” she said. “I mean, obviously soccer has been my life for 30 plus years, you know, so I’d pop into the gym here and there when I had time, nothing crazy.
“I’m enjoying my life, you know, this new journey, a new sport. So it’s it’s been challenging, but it’s been very fun.”