Raquel Pa'aluhi is an Invicta and EliteXC Women's MMA veteran. She is one of the top prospects coming out of Hawaii fighting in the 135lb weight class. We sat down with Raquel and discussed how she got involved in MMA and what her typical day is like. Check out the interview below and make sure to follow Raquel on Twitter @RaquelPaaluhi!
How did you get into MMA?
I went away and wrestled for a year in college after high school. When I got back I started training at what at the time was my Dad and his partners MMA gym just to stay in shape. Some things happened during that summer and I wasn't able to go back to school to wrestle. MMA was something I always wanted to do. When I realized wrestling was pretty much over for me, my Dad started asking the serious questions about what was next. He sat with me and was like, if you're serious about wanting to fight we need to make a 10 year plan and map out the first 2 years. The rest is history.
Your dad was a pioneer of MMA in Hawaii, how has that influenced your career?
I grew up in the gym. We were a part of the original Jesus is Lord crew. My Dad competed in and won the first 8 man tournaments held in Hawai'i. Back then there were no gloves, no time limit, no rules. My Dad was just trying to win some money for our very young(and struggling) family and he ended up becoming a house held name. I watched Hawai'i MMA evolve into what it is today. It was only fitting for me to be a part of that evolution and to carry on my Dad's legacy. It's all I've ever seen growing up so it really is the only thing that made sense to me.
UFC had the first ever WMMA TUF, what are your thoughts about the season so far? Did you try to get on the season?
I think there are a some very tough girls on the show. There's also a lot of drama! I think it's great for us as female fighters to get this exposure. People are still warming up to the fact that women are fighting in cages let alone them being in the UFC. I think it's important that they see how hard we train and how much we sacrifice to be where we are today. You always respect someone a lot more when you know their story and that's what TUF is doing for WMMA in general. I didn't try out because I was in Abu Dhabi and missed the try outs.
You are just getting back into MMA after a year off and focusing on BJJ, can you talk about that...
All of my losses have been by submission. After my fight in September of 2012 my professor suggested I take a year off or so off and train a lot in the gi. I was very hesitant at first but I knew it was something I needed to do. After a few months I heard they were holding the Abu Dhabi trials in Hawaii so I figured it would be some good competition experience. To my surprise, I ended up winning it. It didn't take long for me to absolutely fall in love with Jiujitsu. It has definitely help my MMA career but it has also humbled me, taught me patience.. It changed my whole lifestyle and mind set. I was very hesitant to come back to MMA at first because I felt like my Jiujitsu journey wasn't over yet but I'm just trying to find the perfect balance for now. I have so much I want to do as an MMA fighter but there's even more I want to do as a Jiujitsu fighter also.
What kind of goals do you have for yourself?
I want to be the first Hawaii female in the UFC. I want to be the UFC champion. And I want to be a real champion that has a very long reign. Not just win it and let it go. I'm definitely chasing that black belt now. I want to win world championships at every color belt also. That would be a dream come true for me!
What's your typical day like?
I'm usually out of the house by 8am. I teach classes or privates every morning, including weekends. Usually after that I go to Tactical Strength and Conditioning. I spend anywhere from 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours there. I grab some lunch and I head to Gracie Technics for fight team practices and Jiujitsu. 2-3 times a week I work with my Muay Thai coach as well. I usually leave GT around 8-9pm and I make the long trek back to the west side. I shower and I sleep before midnight.
What kind of training do you do to get ready for your fights?
My training is usually the same all year round. When I'm getting ready for a fight things are just a little bit more specific for my opponent. I spend more time breaking things down with my striking coach, wrestling coach, Jiujitsu coach and even at strength and conditioning trainer.
What do you like to do other than train?
I'm very close to my family so I spend a lot of time with them. I love being outdoors so I try to get to the beach as much as possible. My days are usually busy so I don't have much time to do what I want but definitely beach and family time.
Make sure to follow Raquel on Twitter @RaquelPaaluhi as she chases her dream rising to the top of the WMMA world!