Keoki Cypriano is about to have the biggest fight of his career at Bellator 25. The young fighter, born in Hawaii and now training at Top Notch in Chicago, Illinois, recently sat down with MMA Recap’s Brent Todd to discuss his career.
What got you into mixed martial arts and fighting?
Fighting in general pretty much came from being raised in the Hawian islands. You know it’s pretty big and you are raised to fight. It could be because someone doesn’t like you or the way you look so. There’s a lot of pride in Hawaii and people just scrap. From fighting on the street all the time, that’s what led me to mma. I went to a gym who was a jiu jitsu blue belt under Carlson and he boxed for about 13 years and we tried out. We got our butts handed to us and that made me want it that much more.
So what brought you to Chicago from Hawaii?
I made my pro debut in Hawaii. I fought three times over there and I was 3-0. I ended up meeting a girl while on a cruise ship and she was originally from Chicago. We got pregnant and I decided to do the right thing and move up to Chicago to be a daddy. I came up here and said I wanted to make a run at mma. I checked out five different schools and I didn’t feel that bond at most gyms. I followed Mac at Top Notch and he got my first fight here in less than two months.
What was going through your mind when you got the call that said you would be competing on a big show like Bellator?
When they called I was so stoked. It’s finally come that I can fight on a bigger show. I am tired of fighting on the local shows or even out of state because so often a fight falls through at the last minute. I’ll train and train, and then the guy pulls out because he doesn’t want to scrap you know. Unfortunately out of state the judges and referees haven’t been too kind to me. I feel like it’s my time to shine and why not take advantage.
Is this just a one fight deal or could this fight lead to a possible tournament slot next season?
I think if I have a good showing and show that they can market me then it will lead to their next tournament.
What are your thoughts on your opponent Eric Kreigermeier?
I was really studying for Mark Miller cause we both like to stand and bang. I heard he’s a south paw and has good wrestling. I work with all american wrestlers too. If he’s willing to stand and bang, oh man. It’s going to be fun.
What was the reason that the fight between you and Miller got pulled?
I was told that I didn’t have enough sanctioned fights. A lot of fights out of state weren’t sanctioned for whatever reason. The state didn’t count those. I was kind of bummed about it being pulled.
What is your actual record including the fights that the state doesn’t recognize?
I am 5-2 right now.
You are coming off two losses to the same person, why was there the immediate rematch and what are your thoughts on Kelvin Hackney?
The first one was a real controversial call. In the first ten seconds he came in lagging his jab. He obviously didn’t know much about me because he stepped into my pocket and ate a big right. It was a flash knockout and if it was in the UFC they would have called it and the fight would have been over. I followed up for the kill and missed and from there he got a double leg takedown and laid and prayed on me for the rest of the fight. He wasn’t doing anything and I was even telling the ref to stand us up, but he didn’t. But whatever it happens. Then I heard they wanted to do a rematch and I took that fight immediately. This time he says he has a better game plan and he didn’t. He shot for the takedown and did the same thing.
What aspect of your game would you say is your strongest?
Yeah I love to stand and bang. That’s where my heart is. I am willing to go to the ground. I train everything. To be the best you need to be well rounded.
You train at Top Notch, what’s an average day here?
Oh man I have Mike Santiago who is like me. He sits in the pocket and hits hard. He’s young with good wrestling. I have Ricardo Lamas who’s explosive and has extremely good wrestling and his ground game is phenomenal. Then I got other guys in the gym who have good Muay Thai. A normal day in the gym is strength and conditioning, pad work and then straight to sparring.
What are your goals for the next year or so as far as your career is concerned?
My goal before this Bellator fight came about was to take a late fight in August and then I am going to go back to Hawaii for a little bit to train out there and take another fight in Hawaii. Then I plan to come back and work my wrestling because lets face it, the midwest is all about wrestling. If you can stand and trade and have good jiu jitsu in Hawaii, you are fine, but that doesn’t work here. My goal is to take it one fight at a time. Look at Pat Curran, he took full advantage of the opportunity. I’ve been coming up about the same time and I know one day our paths will cross.
What do you like to do when you aren’t fighting or training?
I spend time with my family. I have one little boy Keoki the third. He’s been in Top Notch since he was two weeks old. He’s like a little mini me with Mac. Other than that I love hitting the weight room and swimming.
What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
Honey Bunches of Oats or Honey Graham Oats.
Any sponsors or people you want to thank?
I’d like to thank Joe Fortis of 2 Guns Management, my chiropractor down in Bollingbrook Dr. Jeff as he makes me train better. My family for supporting me and Top Notch for bringing me in. And Jeff Neal at Carlson Gracie in Naperville
Questions from fighters for fighters:
Who’s the hottest female fighter in the midwest?
Come on man. I have to go with Lil Bulldog. Felice is definitely the hottest in the midwest. She’s gotta be the most popular female fighter in the midwest too.
What’s going through your mind as you enter the cage?
When I hear my music go off it’s a warrior chant. Its very spiritual and it pumps you up. They used that music back in the day when they would go to war. What goes through my head is my family, my career, and what I want to do in the fight. Once I get in that cage I am fearless. All my fear goes away and I am ready for war.