Bellator 224: Kona Oliveira Describes Similarities Between Pro Surfing and MMA

Kona Oliveira Bellator 224
Credit: Bellator MMA

Kona Oliveira will step into the cage professionally for the third time at Bellator 224, and we caught up with the professional surfer before his fight.

Kona Oliveira readies himself for his second go-around in the Bellator cage. Kona will be taking on Joseph Holmes and that goes down Friday, July 12. Bellator 224 will be taking place at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Oliveira vs Holmes takes place on the preliminary portion which goes at 6:45 PM EDT on Paramount Network.

The Bellator Journey

After winning his pro debut in the first round by beating LJ Portee at LFA 45, it seemed like Kona Oliveira was firing on all cylinders. The Hawaiian was getting ready to make his Bellator MMA debut, making his first walk at the Honolulu event, and the stars seemed to be in perfect alignment.

Alas, Kona Oliveira would end up losing in the final round after Nainoa Dung stopped the fight with ground-and-pound. There was some level of controversy surrounding the nature of the stoppage after the fight which Oliveira noted in our talk. In any event, though, a loss is a loss and it went down as the first blemish on the record of Kona Oliveira.

Ahead of his second Bellator bout, Kona has been getting his coaches to analyze the game of Joseph Holmes for Friday’s card. Kona was looking to make some big changes after coming off his first pro loss and those adjustments were made in a big way.

“Everything has changed from my last camp. From moving over to AKA and getting to work with all the greats out here. It’s been awesome.”

Kona feels he reflects more after losses in comparison to wins. The last fight was a major eye opener for Oliveira and prompted an immediate change.

“It made me grow. Had that not happened, I probably would have never came out here to AKA.”

To train at a facility that has bred multiple UFC champions, there’s a real iron sharpens iron mentality lends itself to Kona leveling up. American Kickboxing Academy is his present home but Kona Oliveira really spent a lot of time growing up in the water.

Pro Surfing Efforts

Kona has a tremendous amount of surfing experience throughout his life. Some may see distinct differences with surfing being more serene, in a surface-area sense, and MMA seeming more abrasive. But both are activities that lend themselves to entering a flow state and achieving hyper focus within the moment. Oliveira echoes similar sentiments and sees a lot of parallels between the seemingly divergent disciplines.

“To me, they go hand in hand. My day-to-day was going surfing in the morning before school, go to school, and my dad’s a black belt under Relson Gracie. Ever since I was little, I was on the jiu-jitsu mats. Then, when I turned about 10, I started getting into boxing.”

Surfing is now more of a relaxing pastime for Oliveira. The competitive end of surfing wasn’t something Kona was fired up for anymore. Now, he stokes his competitive fires through competing in Bellator MMA.

Kona Oliveira has been enjoying things so far but something tells me, he is still early on in his endeavors. Oliveira is picking up momentum for when he hits the crest of the wave known as his MMA prime.