HANAPEPE — As a Black Angus restaurant waiter in Los Angeles, Koloa’s Eben Kaneshiro has dealt with lots of tough customers, but not nearly as tough as the mixed martial arts fighters he sees in the ring.
At Saturday’s Garden Isle Mixed Martial Arts Cage Match No. 3, Kaneshiro remained undefeated on the island by defeating another tough customer in Joe Pearson of Team Miletich.
After causing Pearson to tap out in the main event, Kaneshiro leaped up on top of the cage and electrified the packed house at Hanapepe Stadium.
“It’s all adrenaline. It’s a rush. I could feel the crowd and energy. Usually after I win a fight, I’ll do that,” Kaneshiro said.
And that must be something he has a lot of practice with, because of his recent surge, with six straight MMA wins.
When on the island, Kaneshiro trains with Ka-Mole Jiu-Jitsu and for Saturday’s bout, he came down three weeks prior to get ready for the 14-4 fighter from Iowa.
“I love it. It’s just one of the only things that kept my interest,” Kaneshiro said of the sport of mixed martial arts, which is becoming extremely popular on the island.
According to event organizer Vance Pascua, there were over 3,000 spectators at Hanapepe Stadium, which hosted the first-ever outdoor MMA contest on the island.
For Kaneshiro, it was another chance to let his family and friends witness what he’s been working so hard for in the mainland.
Against Pearson, the Kaua’i High School graduate knew exactly what to do to get the victory.
“I couldn’t get (video) tape on him and all his wins were by submission and I’m pretty good at defending that. I was going to try and stand and trade (blows) with him,” Kaneshiro said.
He mentioned that before a fight, he tries to relax and for Saturday’s match, with it being the last of the evening, he tried even more, to stay calm.
“It was a long wait. If you get too excited, you’ll burn yourself out,” Kaneshiro said.
The fight was short and sweet for both Kaneshiro and his home-town crowd.
“It was a good atmosphere. I didn’t expect it to be that short, but I knew he would try to take me down to the ground. He had a couple of good submission attempts, but I caught him with a good one that kind of rocked him,” Kaneshiro said.
And the rest was just a blur to everyone who witnessed Kaneshiro unleash an arsenal of shots to Pearson, causing him to tap out.
For Kaneshiro, it was another special moment in front of his biggest fans, his family, and his friends.
“I got a couple of fights coming up, but other than that, I’m going to try to do the next show in August,” Kaneshiro said.
According to Pascua, the success of the event was so spectacular that the fourth Garden Ise MMA Cage Match is already scheduled for August and with Kaneshiro there, it should be another can’t miss event — just like Eben’s relentless punches to Pearson.