By: King Eddie
Joey Balai is a simple kind of guy. He doens't ask for much, just good friends, a good team, and the opportunity to knock somebody out as often as possible. When Balai first burst onto the scene, not many people gave him a second thought. But fight after fight, Joey has been able to gain respect among the MMA community and along the way become a fan favorite.
I can recall a few years ago when Joey had a title bout at the Expo that many counted him out of, but he came through with the first round submission victory and became a Destiny Amateur Champion. The belt went back to Makaha with him, and people began to realize the potential he had.
He came from humble beginnings in the sport. Just sparring with friends in the park. And that is where he met his future trainer, Keka Doi-Toilolo. The two and the rest of Team Makaha built a strong brotherhood as well as an improving fight team. Keka and Joey went through countless battles together as coach and student. But when tragedy struck Keka in the form of health issues, Joey had to continue training with team Total Control Kickboxing.
In a recent fight at the Blaisdell for King Of The Cage, Joey wowed the crowd with his stunning display of heart in a come from behind victory that was a strong candidate for fight of the night. No matter how many times his opponent tried to stand and trade punches, Joey made him quickly want to take it to the mat. And once there, Joey plotted his moves. Time and time again, he was taken to the mat. And finally in the closing minutes of the last round, Joey pulled out the submission victory. The fans erupted with cheers. Both were bloodied and beaten, and Joey raised his hand in victory with a smile.
In his most recent fight at the Blaisdell, at Destiny: Na Koa, Joey took on the tough Stu Jones in a back and forth brawl on the feet. And when the two went to the ground, Joey took control, scoring yet another submission victory.
After defeating his opponent, Balai took the opportunity to address the crowd. He spoke about his trainer Keka, the man that got him into MMA, and asked the crowd to please aid in funding a kidney transplant for the fallen warrior. It was a true sign of loyalty and respect, and the crowd responded with cheers.
Not only is Joey a tough fighter with hands of solid stone, but he is a kind friend with a heart of gold. From here, Joey seems to have nowhere to go but up. We all look forward to watching this young fighter mature and go on the biggest stage in the sport.