Mixed Martial Arts fighter Egan Inoue was in town on Saturday. Inoue (12-8-0) flew in from Oahu to sign autographs at Solid Clothing in the mall to promote his upcoming fight under the X-1 World Events: Legends card taking place on May 16 at the Neil Blaisdell Arena. I had lunch with him, Mike Hall–president of Fight Agents, which promotes Hawai`i MMA athletes, X-1 president Mike Miller, Maui fighter Dylan Clay and a few other MMA insiders at the Kahului Ale House.
Friday will be the first time that a locally produced MMA event will be available live on pay-per-view. The event is being produced and televised by Liquid Planet Studio, based in Oahu. Oceanic Time-Warner will broadcast it.
Two Maui fighters are on the card, Dylan Clay (5-0-0) and Brandon Visher (10-1-0). Both are ranked high on MmaHawaii.com. In April, Clay was the top Hawai‘i welterweight and Visher, a featherweight, ranked third. Clay and Visher are both well-rounded fighters, and the thing they have in common is Jeff McKee—coach and trainer from Peak Performance and the Wailuku Boxing Club.
During lunch, I sat next to Inoue and found it hard to believe that he’s 42: no wrinkles and a physique that hints he found the Fountain of Youth. Still, I wondered what the hell he was thinking when he decided to get back in the ring to fight Hans Marrero (11-5-0), a talented submission expert from Arizona who’s just 23.
“I’ve been taking these new supplements,” Inoue said. “It seems that my recovery time is better, so I just want to kind of see where I am, give it a chance. [Marrero’s] won all eleven of his fights by arm bar. I already do a lot of ground work, but I tailored my training a little because of that.”
Born and raised in Oahu’s Manoa Valley, he earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Shotokan Karate, Jeet Kun Do and Japanese Jiu Jitsu (he also became a brown belt in Judo). He later took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and in 1996 became the first non-Brazilian to win a world championship when he won the Blue Belt division in Rio de Janeiro. The next year, as a purple belt, he took the unlimited weight class championship.
Inoue’s MMA career started off by chance when he filled in for his brother Enson for a fight in Japan. He won by submission in the first round and was hooked.
Over the next few years, Inoue won five MMA world champion titles and fought in Pride, Shooto, SuperBrawl (Icon Sport) and the Luminex Cup. His last fight, which saw him injured and defeated, was in 2003.
Inouye hasn’t competed in nearly five years, but he’s stayed active with his two gyms on Oahu: The Studio, which focuses on family fitness and Grappling Unlimited, where he focuses on training people for competition.
Inoue says that fighters want to see him back in the ring, but his students keep telling him that, “you have nothing to prove.”
“But win or lose, after getting in the ring, I’ll know where I stand,” he said. “And if I feel like I’m right there, I may go on another run.” MTW