Kamuela Kirk Ready for “Full Experience” Fighting in Front of Fans at UFC 290

Contender Series and LFA veteran Kamuela Kirk makes the walk to the octagon for the third time this Saturday night at UFC 290 — and he’s been waiting for this moment for several reasons.

It’s been a bit of a layoff for Kirk (11-5), who last fought in March of 2022 in a losing effort against Damon Jackson. Injury has kept him on the sidelines since, a tough hand for a fighter who likes to stay active to be dealt.

“I’m starving man. I’m ready to go. It’s been a way longer layoff than I would have hoped for,” Kirk told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “I like to fight, the goal is to fight around three times a year, for me anyway. That’s what I prefer to do.”

In addition to his return to action, UFC 290 marks Kirk’s move to a new weight class. The down time due to injury in a sense might have helped with that.

“After my last fight, some different things that I was dealing with, decided to move up to lightweight. And wanted to make sure that I did that wisely,” Kirk explained. “I didn’t want to rush into the lightweight division, I wanted to make sure I put on the proper size and filled out a little bit, do what I had to do and improve on certain things before making that debut at lightweight.”

Kirk was supposed to face UFC 290 opponent Esteban Ribovics this past March, but recovery from a back injury to his L5 vertebra postponed the bout. Despite the injury, things have worked out for Kirk, who is taking his first fight outside of the UFC Apex.

“It ended up working out, because now we get to run it back on International Fight Week. I keep telling people, there are two cards that every UFC fighter wants to be on. That’s the end of the year card, and the International Fight Week card. So I’m really, really blessed beyond measure to be able to be on this card.”

The addition of the crowd is another factor that has Kamuela Kirk excited. It’s an atmosphere he’s missed out on the past couple of years.

“I’m so excited. One of my favorite parts about fighting is the crowd atmosphere. It’s being able to go put out, put on a show, get on the mic afterwards. I love the whole experience. Because of COVID and then fighting in the APEX the last couple of times, it’s been a long time since I fought in front of the crowd.”

In fact, while there’s his return and lightweight debut to pump him up, the crowd is one of the things that he’s looking forward to most, Kirk told us. “When people talk about making the walk to the octagon, they’re talking about when you’re in an arena and you walk out, and you see fans, you see the crowd, you see the stadium, you walk into the cage. Although I’ve fought twice [in the UFC] I feel like this is really going to give me the full experience.”

“It’s a dream come true,” he added.

As for the booking with Ribovics, “I love it. Stylistically, I’m happy with the match-up.” After a couple of wrestlers who wanted to take him down, Kirk gets a striker in Ribovics, which he called “a nice change of pace.”

When it comes to the size difference at lightweight, after years spent at 145 pounds, “I’m just excited to feel like myself,” he added. “I would rather be a little out-sized at lightweight, if I even would be, but I’m just saying I’d rather be a little out-sized at lightweight but feel like myself, than be a big featherweight, and feel like a fraction of myself.”

Watch our full interview with UFC 290 lightweight Kamuela Kirk above.