Nainoa Dung(1-0 MMA) is looking to make the most of his opportunity by beating Kona Oliveira(1-0 MMA) at Bellator 213 in his home state of Hawaii.
The two Hawaiian prospects are set to meet this Saturday, December 15 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The card features 12 fights with some of the most well-known fighters on the planet. The 19-year-old Hawaiian-born Nainoa Dung has a unique opportunity that most fighters only dream of getting. In only his second match as a professional fighter, he will be opening the main card for Bellator 213, against Kona Oliveira, who also finds himself in the exact same situation.
Nainoa competed earlier this year in August when he took on Kris Berberich at X-1 World Events 50. It only took Dung 87 seconds to sink in a guillotine choke to start off his young, professional career. Dung may just be 19 years old, but he has more experience in mixed martial arts than most others. His Hawaiian heritage has taught him that nothing in this world is given, but instead, a person needs to fight for what they want. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. Nothing was given to me” Nainoa began telling FightBookMMA about his upbringing in Hawaii.
“You have to fight for everything. I’ve been fighting since I was 6 years old, I’m 19 now. I just had my pro debut this year and I’m glad Bellator hit me up, they told me that Bellator is coming to Hawaii. I was just thankful for this big opportunity. I was just thankful to be on the card [but] when I found out they bumped us up to the main card, it was crazy.
Proud Hawaiian Heritage
It’s not a secret that some of the best fighters in the world have come from Hawaii. The fighting spirit runs deep in every Hawaiian as they continue building their legacy. Nainoa is no different. He knew his upbringing was tougher than other teenagers, but he never folded. He aims to add-on to the list of elite Hawaiian’s who have made their mark in the MMA world.
“People look at us Hawaiians [as if] we’re just palms tree’s, grass shacks, hula, grass skirts but if you really go back and look at our history, we’re warriors, were savages. We kill people. You have to really go and check back our history, our heritage, and our lineage. We’ve sacrificed our own people. The real truth about us Hawaiians [is that] we’re savages. We love to fight and we’re just the modern day Hawaiian warriors”.
A True Hawaiian Warrior
Nainoa competed in his first ever professional mixed martial arts bout in August. For a person of only 19 years of age, competing in the sport of mixed martial arts, in front of a crowd, it is normal to feel nervous. Not for Nainoa. He carries his spirit as a warrior in, and out of the octagon.
“Leading up to the Kris Berberich fight, it was the main event and it was my pro debut. Surprisingly, no emotions at all. I’ve been there before and I knew what I had to go out there and do – and I did it. I was looking forward to giving my fans more for what they paid for but its different now. I’m a professional and I will take what I can get. I got the finish and that’s what I was looking for”.
Going into this [fight] its the same thing. No emotions, I’m prepared andI’mm ready to go out there and go to war if thats what he brings. I hope he brings it. He’s been talking a lot, his coaches have been talking a lot. I’ll give him a minute into the fight before he shoots or maybe even thirty-seconds.
Born to be a Professional fighter
Dung was raised in a home where his father took him training from a very young age. It was his father’s training and tough-love attitude that raised Nainoa to be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared for when he takes the step forward into professional mixed martial arts.
“Really, it was my dad. He’s been my trainer since I was young. My first fight was when I was 6 years old. The thing I took from him was that mental toughness. He was tough on me coming up, so I took that mental toughness. His training methods, I didn’t understand at the time. But now it’s all making sense, growing up like my medals, my trophies – it meant nothing. He wouldn’t hang them up, he wouldn’t praise me on them, like belts that I won coming up, they would be in the closet. Because he told me right now, these things don’t matter and at the time I didn’t understand. But what really matters is when you really decide to make this a career and you turn pro. That’s where everything counts”.
“I feel like that mindset that I take going in I think that’s the difference. A lot of people mistake it for cockiness, but I’m just confident in everything I do. I really got to thank my Dad. That’s really the edge I have over everyone. That mental part of it. [People] can be physically ready, emotionally ready but mentally – it’s different”.
It felt natural for Nainoa to compete in mixed martial arts from a young age. Even when he competed at 13 years as an amateur in Washington, he knew eventually that he would be fighting on bigger stages.
To be honest, I always knew, a young age, I set my mind and I told my self that this is what I was gonna be and this is what I have to do to do it. We did it. I’m here now. I’m young, I’m not in a rush but it feels like everything is aligning perfectly. Everything is going good. I’m developing mentally, physically. I feel like my IQ is at a high level. It always has been. It’s the right time. Everything is going good, my training is good I just can’t wait. Yeah, I just can’t wait.
Nainoa Dung is a prospect to watch within Bellator’s lightweight division. Bellator 213 touches down THIS Saturday, December 15 in Honolulu Hawaii with an action-packed card. Make sure you stay tuned at FightBookMMA for all the latest updates, news alerts and results for this weekend!