Maki Pitolo: Whatever Opportunity Is Open To Me, I Will Take It
Hawaiian fighter Maki Pitolo has come a long way from his first steps into the waters of mixed martial arts. 18 years and 90 pounds after his entry into kickboxing, Pitolo is ready to make his career debut in the Victory Fighting Championships on April 1st, 2016.
Pitolo began fighting as a means to lose weight and stay in shape. A former football player, Pitolo used to weigh in at around 260 pounds. He first started kickboxing just as a way to tone his body and regain his cardio during the football offseason. As time went on, he began to dabble in wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, and Muay Thai, and he has attained the potential to become a household name within the fighting community.
As a professional fighter with a record of 5-2 and a 4 fight win streak under his belt, Pitolo is one of the most confident young fighters around. This wasn’t always the case, however, as he did feel quite nervous before his first fight.
“I had the most butterflies in the world inside of my stomach… You see all these big yolked dudes going up and just beating each other and the only thing I’m thinking is ‘Man, I hope I don’t get put on my back and beat to death.’ I went in there and fought a military guy at 205…the first round I actually put him on his back and beat his face in… I immediately got hooked after the first round.”
After roaring into the fighting world going 13-2 as an amateur, Pitolo entered the big leagues and began fighting as a professional. Now he has a chance to fight on one of the largest professional fighting stages in the world: Omaha’s own VFC.
“VFC is something that I really look forward to getting into and of course it’s something that I want to get through and get to the UFC. I feel like I’m one of the best in the world, I have all the tools that I need to face any opponent, any person, any time, any day and I just want to get in there and show the world what I can do, and I do want to be the best in the world at this sport,” Pitolo said.
Pitolo has nothing but kind words to say about VFC’s organization as well, and while it’s not the peak of his ultimate career goals, it is a premium stepping stone for him and fighters like him to gain access to the world of high level fighting.
“The feeling that I’m getting coming into is this is very welcoming, they’re promoting really well, they want me to succeed in my career, and I just feel like there’s not really any media or hype going on yet, but after this fight there will be,” Pitolo said.
To prepare for his debut, Pitolo spends his mornings training his strength and conditioning before Jiu Jitsu practice. After that, he gets some food and rests before heading over to the west side of the island to spar and work on his stand up game. For him, all the training is worth it simply for the experience of both the fight itself, as well as the day leading up to a fight.
“Every time I’m walking out to the cage, that whole preparation the day of the fight leading up until I walk into the cage, every time it feels brand new to me and it’s something that I hunger for. Especially when I finish the guy or I win by decision or whatever it is, I’m so blessed that I get to do it every time.”
Come April 1st, Pitolo will be fighting Andrews Nakahara (4-2-2), another fighter making his VFC debut, at the welterweight division. Pitolo is extremely confident, coming off a long winning streak, but Nakahara will be looking to prove he can win after two consecutive draws.
“I feel like I have the tools needed to come out with the win on this guy, possibly late first round middle second round. I feel like the pace I put on people, he’s not going to be able to keep up with it. I do wish him the best of luck but it’s going to be a tough night for him. It’s gonna end up with him looking up at my hands being raised…I’m never looking for the knockout or the submission, I just let it come, but I do pour on a hell of a pace. Whatever opportunity is open to me, I will take it.”
When asked what he would say to Nakahara if he were sitting across from him, Pitolo first paused, and then said simply: