Kawika “Tips” Martin is not afraid to throw punches — either a hard hook to a clinching opponent or a straight verbal jab in his candid, good-natured manner.
Martin is not to be confused with his cousin, Ikaika “Scar Face” Martin, who lost in his last fight to Arnold Berndon by decision at Toughman Hawaii earlier in the month.
Tips showed family support and went to Scar Face’s fight; the nonfighting Martin on the Unorthodox Industries Championships card on Saturday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium has a scar on his head.
As family matters go, Tips is a straight shooter when analyzing his cousin’s loss.
“He got to train more. Him, he no train,” Tips said. “He just takes fights. Me, I train every day.”
Tips (8-4-1), who holds the Triple Threat Fights lightweight belt, will battle Miles Campbell for his UIC 155-pound title in one of three champion vs. champion bouts.
UIC promoter Russell Strong predicts a train collision between those two.
“It’ll just be a war. Miles is super strong and always in good shape. Tips is always in good shape,” Strong said. “Miles has one of the biggest hearts in the sport. The guy never quits. Tips is good in wrestling. He’ll really push the takedown. I don’t know if he’ll get the takedown on Miles. Miles is big and strong.”
The other matchup of champs are: UIC 170 welterweight champ Pono Kuikahi vs. Destiny (Oahu promotion) champ Nathan Harris; and Just Scrap 135 bantamweight champ Riquo Abadilla vs. Bone Pali, the UIC 145 featherweight champ. Abadilla and Pali will fight for the vacant UIC 135 belt.
“Nate is supposedly a super strong wrestler,” Strong said. “I’m pretty sure if Nate doesn’t get Pono down, Pono will put him to sleep. His stand-up is really strong. It’s a real striker vs. wrestler match, right there.
“Bone can punch, and he has power, but Riquo is more crisp and has keen striking. But Bone will just bite his mouthpiece and take a guy’s head off. He’s a straight-up brawler. Riquo comes to fight.”
In the main event, Hilo’s Toby Misech, who still holds three amateur belts, takes on Kona’s Tyler Kahihikolo, who has the Up-and-Up title, in a pro 145-pound featherweight battle.
“Tyler has fought only good guys. Toby is faster and has more power in the stand-up, but Tyler has more experience,” Strong said. “I’m also bringing in five guys from Molokai and not one of them has a loss.
“Another super good fight is Kaeo Meyers vs. Pat Torres in a lightweight bout. Pat’s a three-time champ in boxing, but obviously MMA’s totally different. Pat’s better at boxing, but Kaeo has the Muay Thai (kickboxing) side to it. That’s going to be a super good fight.”
Meanwhile, asked which Martin would stand over the other in an MMA fight, Tips pointed out the only challenge would be in arm wrestling.
“We no fight each other. We’re family,” Tips said. “If it was arm wrestling, it’s me. I’m probably more strong. We’re the same size, but he looks bigger just because he’s taller. He’s 5 feet 11. I’m 5 feet 9.”
Tips, 26, got his nickname by happenstance. One of his pals called him Tips and the nickname stuck. He works construction for his dad, so his nickname could have very well been something like “cement head” or “table saw.”
He’s 1-for-3 in title shots, and itching to add another crown. He failed in his belt quest at 808 Battleground and Just Scrap. Tips goes Saturday against Campbell, who defended his UIC belt with a decision over Nue Kahele in February.
“I got in MMA five years ago when Just Scrap started,” said Martin, a 2004 Pahoa graduate, who played baseball and football, and wrestled. “My goal is to try and get into some big stuff. My dream is to go the UFC. If not, something else like Strikeforce.
“It would be great to get that UIC belt. That’s what I wanted when Russell opened his show. I want a belt. I get my shot and I’m coming for it.”