Even prior to the novel coronavirus putting a halt to MMA for a big portion of 2020 for most fighters, for featherweight Canaan Kawaihae, it was just part of a larger layoff that he had been on since then end of 2018.
Luckily for Kawaihae, he was able to provide for his family because of his job outside of fighting and keep afloat until he was able to get back to fighting.
“It was a great rest being off for two years, but it was also a lot of hard work,” Kawaihae told MMAWeekly.com. “If I didn’t work construction financially I would have been trouble because of Covid and everything. That was a blessing.
“Now I have an opportunity to fight again. I’ve been inspired by watching all the Hawaiians fight in the UFC, and teammates of mine fighting, it got my blood boiling again and I wanted back into the fire.”
When Kawaihae steps into the cage for his first competitive fight since December of 2018, he feels fans will see a completely different athlete to the one he was then.
“I’m definitely not the same fighter I was back then,” said Kawaihae. “I picked up some weight from working construction. I feel like I’ve matured physically and mentally.
“It’s going to be a different Canaan from back in the day. I’m pretty sure that I’ve evolved into bigger and better in all aspects.”
This Friday in Shawnee, Kansas, Kawaihae (5-1) will look to return to fighting with a victory when he takes on Jake Childers (8-1) in the 145-pound co-main event of LFA 105.
“From what I’ve seen Jake Childers is tough, is a wrestler, and makes his fights as ugly as possible,” Kawaihae said. “He tries to throw combinations to get into a clinch and get a takedown. He’s very grimy and grind-y and tries to wear you down with takedowns and dirty boxing.
“I think I have pretty awesome stand-up. I have some pretty good wrestling too. I’m a black belt on the ground, so if he takes me down I’m not worried about it. I’m pretty comfortable on my back and pretty comfortable on the ground. I feel like I can pull this off as long as I show up and perform.”
While he initially might have been thinking about the larger picture of his return to competition, as he approaches his first fight back Kawaihae has set his sights more to the task at hand and taking things as they come.
“For now I’m just going one fight at a time,” said Kawaihae. “Maybe a couple weeks ago I would have a roadmap, for now I’m going to take things fight by fight.
“If I do good I will expect bigger. I’m definitely going to be looking for a UFC contract if my managers can provide that for me.”