Paradise "The Problem" Vaovasa turned pro about six months ago. While he has great physical ability, it's the mental side of his game that he feels puts him over the top against other fighters.
Vaovasa will fight for the third time in his professional career Saturday at Kezar Pavilion as part of Dragon House 17, a 15-fight card put on by his home gym. The 24-year-old San Francisco native has yet to lose a professional bout and is on a five-fight winning streak dating back to his amateur days, where he compiled a 5-2 record. His opponent in the 155-pound match will be 27-year-old Ivan Posas, who also turned pro recently. Posas, a Galt native, won his first professional fight in June.
Vaovasa knows Posas can give fighters fits, but he has no shortage of confidence entering the fight.
"I have more tools than he does to win the fight," Vaovasa said. "I really think I'm the smarter fighter. I've already won the battle in my head before the actual fight has started. Also, I don't hold any personal grudges against any of my opponents. At the end of the day, it's just business."
Vaovasa has tweaked some of his prefight workouts this time around.
"The way I look at it, there are two fights to the game," Vaovasa said. "Making weight and the actual fight. Right now, I'm doing a lot more cardio than before [other matches] and sticking to a consistent diet."
If the fight comes down to who has the mental edge, it is likely that Vaovasa will come out on top. This was apparent in Vaovasa's last fight against Antoine Smith.
"He was physically stronger than me and a lot more athletic than I expected," the 5-foot-7 Vaovasa said. "One of the keys to that fight was the way I adapted. My mental strength was a big part of that. Sometimes I feel like I think too much during a fight, but when I enter the a mindset of being unstoppable, that's when I go to another level."
Vaovasa has set some lofty goals for himself.
"I want to get into the UFC and be successful at that level. I also want to be a champion for any high-end promotion," Vaovasa said. "Not only do I want people to remember me, but I also want to have an impact on people's lives."
If Vaovasa becomes as successful in MMA as his fighting inspiration was in his own sport, then the San Francisco native could have big things in store for his career.
"I have many fighters that inspire me, but if you want to talk about tactics and fighting ability, my favorite boxer of all time is Mike Tyson," Vaovasa said.
Title fights on San Francisco MMA card
Two title fights are on the card for a mixed martial arts event Saturday at Kezar Pavilion.
Collin Hart (5-3-1) of Santa Rosa and Marcus Gaines (11-23-1) of Sacramento, a pair of 185-pounders, will square off in the main event of Dragon House 17, a 15-match card that begins at 4 p.m. At 205 pounds, Michael Ortega (1-0) of San Jose and Marcel Fortuna (4-1) of San Ramon will meet in the co-main event. Both fights are for Dragon House titles.
There will also be a women's flyweight bout between Jeana Pinelli, who is making her pro debut, and Chantalle Castellanos (2-2). Pinelli is one of five San Franciscans on the card. The others are Paradise Vaovasa, Ladale Noa, Cody Orrison and Robert Prakhantree.
The event will be live on pay-per-view.
Dragon House 17
Saturday at Kezar Pavilion
(Doors open at 3 p.m., fights start at 4 p.m.)
In reverse order of fights (affiliation and record in parentheses)
205 pounds (main event): Marcel Fortuna (Team USA, 4-1-0) vs. Michael Ortega (Cung Le's MMA, 1-0-0)
185 pounds (co-main event): Collin Hart (Nor Cal Alliance, 4-2-1) vs. Marcus Gaines (Mainevent Fight Team, 8-17-1)
155 pounds: Adam Piccolotti (Raul Castillo BJJ, 2-0-0) vs. Eugene Marenya (Black House, 0-1-0)
155 pounds: Jeffrey Peterson (Team Alliance, 2-3-0) vs. Cody Orrison (El Nino Training Center, 2-1-0)
125 pounds: Robert Prakhantree (FTCC, 0-0) vs. Alex Uribe (No Limit MMA, 0-3-0)
170 pounds: Tramain Smith (Galaxy Boxing, 4-10-0) vs. Sam Spengler (Cung Le's MMA, 4-4-0)
125 pounds (women): Jeana Pinelli (Bay Area Boxing, 0-0) vs. Chantalle Castellanos (No Limit Fighting, 2-2-0)
125 pounds: Christian Espinosa (Asylum Fight Team, 1-0-0) vs. Andrew Hansen (Gracie Fighter, 0-1-0)
125 pounds: Sammy Saunders (Mando Combat, 2-4-0), Ryan Bastianelli (Combat Fitness, 5-6-1)
155 pounds: Paradise Vaovasa (Dragon House, 2-0-0) vs. Ivan Posas (Gracie Fighter, 1-0-0)
170 pounds: Dino Pagtakhan (Panther Muay Thai, 0-1-0) vs. Richard Rigmaden (Delotega MMA, 2-6-0)
145 pounds: Ladale Noa (Dragon House, 2-0-0) vs. Chris Avila (Gracie Fighter, 0-1-0)
155 pounds: Mikey Gonzalez (Team Pedro, 1-0-0) vs. Roberto Akuma (KO1 Fitness, 1-4-0)
135 pounds: Adam Cruz (Asylum Fight Team, 0-0) vs. Radames Garcia (Cung Le's MMA, 0-1-0)