Saturday, November 1, 2014

Raquel Pa'aluhi's Back

Scott Hirano, Invicta FC
Stepping in on late notice, the always exciting Raquel Pa'aluhi will be facing Kaitlin Young tonight. Known for her aggressive style, Raquel took nearly a year off from fighting to really focus on her jiu-jitsu and grappling. She's also made some drastic changes in her training and life. This fight, in my opinion, has all of the makings of fight of the night. Both fighters are known for their aggression and both fighters have made significant changes in their training and outlook. I had the opportunity to talk with Raquel last night before her fight.

CJ: You've taken some time off to work on your grappling. Can you talk about Abu Dhabi and your other accomplishments?

RP: Last year, I won the Abu Dhabi trials and I ended up going but there was a lot of problems and miscommunication. So much crap happened that I wasn't able to compete because of some weight issues. I did compete in and get 3rd at Worlds and I won the no-gi Worlds.

I really started focusing on the gi after my loss to Nunes. I feel like my grappling has gotten a lot better and that I've really fallen in love with jiu-jitsu. It really consumed me and I took some time off to focus on it. It took me on a journey that I didn't expect to take but that I needed to take. I think my jiu-jitsu is one of the best at 135 now.

CJ: Can you talk about the changes in your training?

RP: I went to a fight camp at X'Treme Couture and at Drysdale. I trained at the same time that Miesha was training for her fight, but my fight fell through so I was was kinda sitting there. Now that I  know what's here, I thought I'd be hurting myself if I went back home. So I went home for 10 days, called my dad and mentioned that I wanted to stay in Vegas. My friends said they would help me out, my dad sold my car for me, while I was home I packed my stuff and sold what I didn't.

CJ: What should fans expect to see tomorrow?

RP: Whatever happens, I'm going to be aggressive. I always fight the same fight. my gameplan is not a secret. I started out as a wrestler but I'm not afraid to punch. Most of my finished come when I take people down and punch on them.

I think Kaitlin and I are both in a place where we need to win. We are both in the same place record wise where we have more losses than wins. I think a win will put me in a good place because we have both fought tough opponents.

CJ: You're record is pretty deceptive considering the people you fought and how close the fights were.

RP: Yeah, I feel like I had good fights against the girls I lost to. My fight against Nunes was also a late notice.

CJ: Do you see yourself in the UFC?

RP: I would think if I can get 2 or 3 more wins, I can be in the UFC. If I win (tonight) I would like to get a couple more fights with Invicta, to help me with what isn't necessarily ring rust, but just to get comfortable in the ring.

CJ: Is there anyone in the UFC you would like to fight?

RP: I've not been worrying about other fighters. It has been part of my journey. I've been worrying about becoming a complete martial artist. It doesn't matter who I fight.

My dad's given name was the Hawaiian word for martial arts. We've always excelled in martial arts and it goes deeper than being Hawaiian. We are a line of fighters.

Be sure to watch Raquel fight tonight on UFC Fightpass

Mizuki Inoue Fights Tonight

Scott Hirano, Invicta FC

In tonight's co-main event, Mizuki Inoue will be facing off against Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Having fought her entire career in Japan, Mizuki burst onto the international scene last year when she defeated Bec Rawlings. Throughout the fight she showed the hand and head movement that has made her popular. Since that fight, Mizuki has not been idle. She has been competing in grappling competitions, won two Girl's S-Cups (shootboxing) and became the Deep Jewels Champion. Her striking seems to have improved even more and her underrated grappling has also improved. Before the fight, I had the opportunity to talk to Mizuki about what she's been doing and about the future

CJ: Congratulations on winning the S-Cup again. Is Shootboxing something that you would like to keep doing?

MI: Being the back to back champion has made me a lot more confident. If I get the chance, I'd like to do it again.

CJ: Is there a potential Rena fight in the future?

MI: (Coach Yamaguchi) There was talk that Rena might go up a weight class, but we don't know. If she moves up in weight it wouldn't be a problem, of course she would fight her.

CJ: At this year's S-Cup your teammate, Yukari Yamaguchi won the 105 tournament, how did it feel watching one of your training partners do so well?

MI: It was only her second pro-fight, she was able to win. We train together so I felt very comfotrable about her going into the tournament.

CJ: You recently became the Deep Jewels Champion, with your victory over Tomimatsu, can you talk about that fight?

MI: It was what it was, Tomimatsu actually pushed me in some striking exchanges so I need to look back and learn from that fight. I think she may have adjusted from the first fight but I also think that I might have not been as serious as I needed since I had won the previous fight.

CJ: Do you think a victory over Karolina will put you in a spot to fight for the title?

MI: Eeeh, I think its still too early for that.

CJ: You've fought and beaten Bec Rawlings and Alex Chambers, both of whom are on TUF, have you been able to watch and what do you think?

MI: They are very good fighters, fighters that I would like to fight.

CJ: What are your thoughts on your opponent tonight?

MI: Karolina is a very good striker that is also good on the ground. I think that the fight might turn into a ground battle, which is ok with me because I want to show what I can do on the ground.

CJ: Is there anything you'd like to say?

MI: It's going to be a good fight

CJ: How are you handling all the press related stuff?

MI: (laugher) I'm not really good at it

Amber Brown's looking for the title

Scott Hirano, Invicta FC
Tonight the #4 ranked atomweight in the world, Amber Brown, will be stepping into the Invicta cage for the first time. Amber somewhat came out of nowhere in 2013, when she stepped up to fight Emi Fujino on late notice in a heavier division. When I spoke to her then, she told me to expect a war. She was right. In a losing effort, Amber bloodied Fujino and came close to finishing the fight. Two months later, she fought Kikuyo Ishikawa. In the top 5, Kikuyo was a tough opponent for anyone. Amber wore her down with strikes and big knees and in the end set up a fight ending armbar. That fight was in July of last year and Amber hasn’t fought since. She’s going to be stepping into the cage with Liz McCarthy tonight in what promises to be an exciting match. Before her fight, I had the opportunity to talk to her;

Brown mounted Fujino

CJ: Your last fight was an impressive victory over then ranked Kikuyo Ishikawa, but that was more than a year ago. How have you improved since then?

AB: I’m not even the same fighter that fought Kikuyo, I’ve been in the gym working on everything. I’ll be a different fighter, they might expect the same fighter, but it has been a long time and I’ve been training.

CJ: That was a great fight, can you talk about that fight?

AB: It was awesome, she was ranked number 5, I came in and got the armbar. It was amazing. I don’t even know if I was ranked in the top 30 at the time, so to go out and win like that was amazing.

CJ: Since it’s been awhile since your last fight, what should people expect to see?

AB: I’m going to be aggressive, forward pressure in her face, she should expect the knees, maybe go to the body more, I wanted to do that against Kikuyo but I really wanted to hit her in the head. I’m a lot better at everything now, everything has come a long way.

CJ: What does a win tomorrow night do for you?

AB: I’m looking for the title of course, I feel like a couple more wins will get me a title shot.

CJ: Who do you think would be a good match to get you closer?

AB: Jodie (Esquibel), she’s up there and had a good win in her last fight/

CJ: How do you see a fight with the champ going?

AB: She’s a pretty good striker, her kicks are her thing but I’d take her down and beat her up.

AB: I am ready, so ready, I finally get to fight, It’s been a long time. I want to thank all my coaches that have helped me prepare over the past 15 months.

I'd lik to thank Amber for taking the time to speak with me.
You can watch her fight tonight on UFC Fightpass for Invicta FC 9