Two months removed from his hilight reel knockout victory at UFC 250, Nanakuli’s Maki Pitolo will make his return to the octagon this weekend.
Pitolo, will face off with highly touted middleweight Darren Stewart at UFC Fight Night 174 in Las Vegas on Saturday.
“I’m just looking to go out there and have the time of my life. Represent my island. I love this sport man, and I truly love to compete,” Pitolo told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “Compete against some of the best in the world so for me to be able to go in there and compete on a national stage, it’d wonderful. It means the world to me and this is why I do what I do.”
What Pitolo is known to do, is light the fuse. Standing at 5-foot-9, built like a brickhouse, the man nicknamed Coconut Bombz has exploded into a fan favorite, and with big wins and big attention, comes bigger fights as Pitolo and Stewart combine for 14 knockouts in their 24 career victories.
“I get chicken skin thinking about it every time. This is what wakes me up in the morning. This is what gets me going. Waking up knowing that these guys are bigger than me. They count me out because I’m a smaller guy, I’m a smaller frame. Doesn’t mean anything to me brah, I train my but off day in and day out,” said Pitolo.
Maki, doesn’t do that work alone, grinding with teammates like Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros, he also leaves the blood, sweat, and tewars on the mat with his boodline as younger brother Alfonso pushes Maki in every way possible.
“He’s the ace. That guy brings out the best in me. He’s probably one of the only guys that can push me to my limits and probably dish out what I dish back to him. He’s my right hand man. He’s my backbone. If you’re watching this brah, I love you brah,’ Pitolo said from Las Vegas.
“Man, that means the world. I get to see him living out his dreams and he’s doing his thing. I’m very proud. Very proud of my brother. I’m very happy for him that all the hard work is paying off and he’s doing his thing,” Alfonso said after being relayed Maki’s message.
That overhwelming feeling of pride is mutual.
Rooted by Maki’s respect and admiration of Alfonso’s battle through years of roadblocks. Having fought through drug and alcohol abuse, perservering to stand tall as the proud father of his one year old daughter Alia and right hand man to his big bro.
“It means everything man. The guy was down and out,” Maki said with tears in his eyes, dropping his head into his hands. “To see him come back and do what he’s doing now. Inspiration. Inspiring. Super inspiring.”
“I don’t know what to say man, it was a long road to get here and it was with his help. A lot of it has to do with his help. He keeps pushing me to be better and here we are man,” added Alfonso. “For those out there that are going through hard times right now, I’m a recovering drug addict and I know most of you guys don’t hear it but, I love you. That’s what got me through all this. The love from my brother, my family, my friends, and everyone around me. It’s all about the love. Just keep pushing. I believe in you, I believe in myself. Through that anything is possible.”
Those are the words that Maki will carry into the octagon this Saturday, knowing that win, lose, or draw, that the brotherhood has prevailed.
“We winners brah. I come from nothing. I come from nothing brah. So every day I know I’m winning. I got a family, I got a strong support system. Best team in the world I train with, and I got the best managment team behind me brah. We coming full force, Team Hawai’i all day my braddah,” said Maki.
Alfonso’s big brother will make the walk at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas this Saturday serving as the third bout on the main card which starts at 3pm HST on ESPN+.