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Exclusive Interview: Raquel Pa’aluhi

Monday, August 26th, 2013

by Bryanna Fissori


Saturday, August 24 Hawaii’s largest MMA promotion “Destiny MMA” held the summer’s biggest island event “Proving Grounds II” at Aloha Tower in Honolulu.

With a packed venue of fans Bantamweight Female Fighter Raquel “Rocky” Pa’aluhi (3-4-0) made her much anticipated return to the cage. The Hawaii mixed martial artist has been fighting professionally since 2010 and in her tenure has taken on some of the best the sport has to offer including Sara McMann, Raquel Pennigton, Amanda Nunes and Sarah D’Alelio.

This weekend she shook off the cage rust and took on Pricilla White from Washington. When asked if she felt the fight went according to plan Pa’aluhi told, “It did and it didn’t. The goal was to at least get to the second round so I could get some cage time in but the finish was there so I took it. I also really wanted to stand more but I caught her kick and my natural reaction as a wrestler was to take her down. But the game plan for the fight was still fairly similar to how the fight went down.

This was the first time I was extremely calm before my fight. I usually get very nervous but I was very calm. My coaches and family kept saying, “have fun out there..” and that’s what I kept reminding myself. Like, okay Raquel . . . This is what you absolutely love to do. Just have fun out there tonight.”


Pa’aluhi may have taken a break from the cage, but her level of intensity and motivation has only gained momentum.

I am now a full time fighter so that’s been a huge change for me this camp. I was able to train a lot more for this fight than previous ones. We also got a new Muay Thai coach at our gym so I’ve been able to learn a lot from him leading up to this fight. And as most people know, I’ve been working a lot on my Jiu Jitsu. From my last fight until now I’ve probably put in at least 300 hours of gi time in. I’ve been working on being a more complete and well rounded fighter in this time off.”

The Jiu Jitsu work paid off for Pa’aluhi, won the Hawaii qualifying tournament for the Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials. Unfortunately the event conflicted with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) try-outs, though Paahlui is confident that everything happens for a reason as she plans the next steps in her career.

“I feel like more than anything I am mentally stronger. I always had what it took, but I needed to conquer my mind,” said Pa’ahlui Taking my Jiujitsu journey over the last year changed my entire life. I feel like my mind and my body are finally on the same page. 

My coaches and I put together a four fight plan. With 1 down, we want 3 more wins before we knock on that UFC door. I have a few options for fights in November so we are trying to choose wisely and make sound decisions that will help build my career the right way. I took a lot of tough fights early on and I now know the importance of choosing fights that will help you rather than trying to take all the fights thrown at you just because you don’t want to back down.”

Pa’aluhi has a huge support system on the island and beyond, which was more than evident at the Destiny event.  Fans can look forward to seeing this koahine (Hawaiian female warrior) back in action soon as she continues to climb the 135 lb ranks.

“Thank you to my coaches, Rylan Lizares, Ivan Flores and Michael Nakagawa. Also, my manager Bryan Hamper with Suckerpunch Ent. Last but not least, my sponsors ATH Sports Nutrition, Tactical Strength and Conditioning, Body Coral, Lino Hau, Nueve Salon and Spa, and Belly and Beyond Hawaii. And of course, everyone who came out to support us last night! Thank you so much.”

Follow Raquel Pa’aluhi at: and @RaquelPaaluhi

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