|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