Hawaii's Maki Pitolo ready for shot at the UFC
Hawaii's Maki Pitolo is getting a second chance at joining the UFC this month. Pitolo got his first opportunity to earn a UFC contract on the show Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series last year, but had to pull out due to injury. He was scheduled to take on Chibwikem Onyenegecha but got scratched even after flying up to Las Vegas and going through much of the fight week experience.
"They're taking a chance with me and I'm going to show them that taking a gamble on me it's going to pay off," said Pitolo on getting the call back for the show's third season this year.
On Tuesday, July 9th 2019, Pitolo is set to take on Justin Sumter. Sumter, who competed on the Contender Series last year, lost to UFC middleweight Ian Heinisch. Since that loss, Sumter did rebound with a win last February.
But Pitolo has bounced back as well. Since his injury, Maki got a win at Bellator 213 in his homestate in December 2018.
When asked how long he has wanted this opportunity Pitolo responded, "forever! Since I stepped foot in the ring and made this my dream and made this my life".
Maki, who goes by the nickname "Coconut Bombz" holds a record of 11-4 as a professional. He has fought in several organizations including Bellator, CFFC, and Victory FC. He was the former Victory FC welterweight champion. Some of Pitolo's training partners include UFC contender Yancy Medeiros and current UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway.
"Just seeing them in the ring (and) being around them, that's all the confidence I need. That's all the motivation I need to go in there. And I want to be up there with them. All the top dogs are in this organization and that's where I need to be", added Pitolo.
Sumter has also fought for the Bellator promotion where he's 1-1 in the Bellator cage. Sumter known as “The Fort” is 7-2 as a pro from Springfield, Massachusetts.