Toby Misech would love to get in a mixed martial arts cage again but patience is required.
The Hilo fighter’s last bout was a first-round knockout against Mexico’s Erik Perez at Bellator 235 last December at Neal Blaisdell Arena. The bantamweight (135 pounds) bout ended when Perez walked into a left-handed punch from Misech, who lived up to his “2 Quick” nickname.
It was Misech’s third bout of a four-fight deal with Bellator and ended Perez’ five-match win streak.
“I’d like to chase the bantamweight title belt,” Misech said.
Misech (11-7) is ranked sixth in a bantamweight poll. The title is currently open after Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi vacated the belt due to an ACL injury.
The 32-year-old Hilo High graduate is hoping to fight again at the end of the year. He’s 2-1 in Bellator fights, defeating Perez and Edward Thommes and losing to Brazil’s Eduardo Dantas by unanimous decision.
Misech is still employed by PepsiCo. and works out at his home gym during the coronavirus pandemic. He credited his fitness to the biggest improvements in his fight game.
“I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and strengthening,” he said.
It’s been a long journey for Misech, who fought and lost to Max Holloway in 2010 in an amateur bout.
For those who remember that fight at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, it is perhaps most memorable for Holloway’s fight gear. He came out in what looked like red underwear.
But Holloway, from Waianae, Oahu, was on the road to greatness.
Misech put in the time and travel to reach his destination. He once had a three-bout deal with Pacific Xtreme Combat, a promotion based out of Guam.
Back in 2018, he lost to Ricky Palacios by unanimous decision in Dana White’s Contender Series. But like during his basketball days as a Viking, Misech rebounded and is back in Bellator.
Even better, he’s living in Hilo and still fighting for every inch to the mountaintop.
“I’m back home, where I belong,” he said.
It was a costly victory for Russell Mizuguchi in a Bellator split-decision over Michael Nakagawa in Bellator 213 in December, 2018. It was his first bout for Bellator but he tore his ACL and hasn’t fought since.
Mizuguchi (5-0) works for the National Guard and has been busy with COVID-19.
“If I do go back, I’m probably going to try and get on the (UFC) contender or fight in the next Bellator Hawaii,” he said. “We’ll see. I’m not sure yet.”
Like Mizuguchi, Brad Tavares, a UFC middleweight, has been out of action.
His last fight was a knockout loss to Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC 244 last November. He also suffered a torn ACL last year, had surgery in February and still hasn’t been cleared to train.
He’s hoping to fight before the year’s end while like the rest of Hilo’s MMA pros continue to ride out the pandemic, the deadliest opponent of all.