For Pearl City’s Kai Kamaka III a lifelong dream becomes reality this Saturday in Las Vegas as the 25 year old will make his UFC debut on short notice at UFC 252.
Two weeks ago, we told you the story of how Kamaka (7-2) under the guidance of his management team Sucker Punch Entertainment, took a leap of faith leaving his pregnant wife and two children behind, relocating to Las Vegas with the hopes of being available as a late replacement in the UFC.
Just 11-days after a victory in the LFA organization the fighter nicknamed “The Fighting Hawaiian” got the call on Tuesday, stepping up to face fellow newcomer Tony Kelley (5-1) this Saturday on the early prelims of the highly anticipated UFC 252.
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“There are a lot of people that’s proud back home and they see how hard I work Max I’m just glad that I can be the one to do it right now,” Kamaka told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “That’s the way I look at it. I’m just the guy, I’m just the one representing on Saturday and it could be any one of us. Anyone of us from Hawaii, anyone of us from especially my family and so I’m just glad I got the opportunity.”
Kamaka’s manager Brian Butler-Au shared the FaceTime phone call that he made with Kamaka to inform him of his signing to the UFC, where in the video an emotional Kamaka thanks his manager and yells out, “I did everything you told me to do.”
“This experience has taught me a lot. With my family, with myself, and just with business in general. You have to have that trust within your family, with my wife to take this leap of faith to roll the dice in Vegas,” added Kamaka. “You have to know the business and how it works to put myself out here and know that, just being resilient and keep working. Nothing in life is guaranteed but it can happen.”
Win, lose, or draw come Saturday, Kamaka says he hopes that his experience can serve as a motivation and inspiration for others that have waited for an opportunity, showing that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to increase your chances.
“I hope to leave the impression that sometimes, or a lot of times, you have to go out and get it. You talk sports, you talk anything in life. I hope to just give a story that sometimes taking risks are worth it.”
Kamaka, will be cornered by his cousin, PFL welterweight champion Ray Cooper III, his uncle, former UFC veteran Ronal Jhun, and his brother, former University of Hawaii Football recevier Tristin Kamaka.
The UFC 252 early prelims begin at 12:00pm HST on Saturday, and will be available for viewing via the UFC Fight Pass App.