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How a near tragedy sparked the rise of Hawaii’s second generation of MMA stars

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Charles Kipili Jr. was lying in a hospital bed three years ago, not knowing whether he’d live or die.

The one thing he did know is that if he managed to survive this savage stabbing, the one that severed the brachial artery near his bicep, he had to get his act together. If not just for himself and his family, but also the fighters he had taken under his wing.

“I just started thinking about when I got shot [in 2007], all the fights I’ve been in and I felt like, ‘Oh man, I’m not gonna get a lot of chances if I keep living this lifestyle,'” Kipili Jr. said.

Fast forward to 2015. Kipili Jr. was sitting in a locker room in Dublin, Ireland, more than 7,000 miles away from where he grew up on the tough streets of Waianae, Hawaii. He was browsing social media when he saw Louis Smolka, his protégé who he has known since the first day Smolka set foot in a gym, was bumped to the main event of UFC Fight Night 76.

“It feels surreal, because it was always our dream to get them to the UFC, to be in the UFC,” Kipili Jr. said. “Once Louis got bumped up to the main event, I just couldn’t believe it.”

Two months later, Kipili Jr. celebrated with Max Holloway after his win over Jeremy Stephens at UFC 194, his eighth straight victory in the UFC’s loaded lightweight division.

In a strange way, these latter events might not have occurred if not for the former.

PARADISE LOST

About an hour drive from the city of Honolulu and the breathtaking beaches of Waikiki lies Waianae. Hawaii is known for its gorgeous landscape, waterfalls and luaus. Waianae, part of Oahu’s disadvantaged West Side, is not a destination for travelers.

Waianae has the largest native Hawaiian population ….View full article

Source:: mma fighting