Fighter of the Month: Pious Enilolobo, Jr.

By Doug Geller
Photos by Primo Catalano, Stephanie Drews, and Meghan Wonder

In a conversation with Pious ‘Voodoo’ Enilolobo, Jr., you’re most likely to hear the phrase “no doubt” more than anything else. To that end, the phrase quite accurately describes Enilolobo in the cage.

Out of the cage, he looks to define his life through making sure everything he does improves himself or his friends and family. At the forefront of his life are his four kids, wife, the special education kids he teaches and his dream of becoming a UFC champion. The dream he wishes he found just a little earlier.

Pious Enilolobo Jr. has built an impressive 3-0 record at the University of MMA. Pictured left is Enilolobo's head coach, Brian Peterson. (Photo by /University of MMA)

Pious Enilolobo Jr. has built an impressive 3-0 record at the University of MMA. Pictured left is Enilolobo’s head coach, Brian Peterson. (Photo by Stephanie Drews/University of MMA)

Enilolobo’s first encounter with combat sports was during his 10 years living in Nigeria. Although he never had any formal training in it, wrestling was a standard way for kids his age to kill time after school. Additionally, 90 percent of the TV Enilolobo, watched were Bollywood films or kung fu programs. This further excited the young man to engage in this activity. He and his friends relished the challenge of trying to take each other down.

The next step for Enilolobo, in his martial arts journey was to find a karate school. However, his mom wouldn’t let him train, as she thought martial arts were too violent. Instead, she let him play a much safer sport: football.

It wasn’t until his college days, at Cal State Northridge, when Enilolobo, got a job and could pay for his martial arts training. During that time, he studied Shotokan Karate, earning his brown belt in three years under Sensei Hiroyasu Fujishima, an 8th degree black belt in the style.

Much like many MMA fans, Enilolobo’s introduction to the caged sport came through an acquaintance, although in this case, it was through a more random connection: the college’s gardener, Miguel Angel.

During the first week of school, Enilolobo, and his roommate noted Angel’s exceptional physique, which led to a conversation about working out, fitness, and martial arts. Eventually, Enilolobo and his roommate were invited to watch UFC 2 at Angel’s house. Enilolobo was taken by Royce Gracie dominating much larger opponents with his jiu jitsu.

“A light bulb went off in my head, and I said, ‘damn I need to know what that is.’ My roommate and I would practice it on our own,” said Enilolobo.

It wasn’t until roughly four years ago, when Enilolobo was introduced to famed MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy, that Enilolobo started training in MMA. The link came through Enilolobo’s karate sensei, Master Sam Deratani of Flying Kick Martial Arts. Master Sam introduced Enilolobo to McCarthy, who encouraged the eager student to try out for McCarthy’s fight team.

Enilolobo Jr. in his U of MMA debut (Photo by /University of MMA)

Enilolobo Jr. in his U of MMA debut (Photo by Stephanie Drews/University of MMA)

After his first experience training mixed martial arts, Enilolobo took his first fight at the tender age of 36, against 40-year-old Ricardo Robles. In his debut, he dominated all three rounds, earning a unanimous decision victory. From the very beginning of the fight, Enilolobo punished Robles with his striking never letting the submission specialist get to the ground.

In his second fight, Enilolobo took on Danny Garcia, Robles’ teammate. And whereas Enilolobo kept his debut match on the feet, avoiding Robles’ ground game, he employed the opposite strategy in his second fight. Garcia was known more for his stand-up, and, as such, Enilolobo used his takedown and wrestling prowess to control the match. Eventually, Enilolobo would land a monstrous head kick on Garcia and finish the fight with an armbar in the third round.

Though Enilolobo began his wrestling in Nigeria he credits his coach Brian Peterson with fine-tuning it.

“Its about timing and explosion, technique. He taught me that, he taught me technique in addition to what I brought in. I came with the raw materials. He just shaped it,” Enilolobo said.

Bruce Lee’s most famous quote “be like water” emphasizes the ability to be flexible and adapt to every situation. With Lee as his role model, Enilolobo aspires to achieve that fluidity when he fights. To learn anything, and to always be comfortable wherever the fight goes. However, as advanced as he is, Enilolobo also suggests that a full realization of that fluidity isn’t necessarily possible, and that the journey is, in fact, the destination.

“We can be decent at it. There is always something to learn. As long as there is something you don’t know, are you really a full mixed martial artist?” asks Eniilolobo.

And in the same vein that Lee taught to take the best elements of any style and combine them to build one’s own arsenal, Enilolobo takes that philosophy to heart when watching UFC events. To this day, he’s an avid UFC fan, but he also considers himself a student of the game, emulating techniques from fighters, like the leg kick from Jose Aldo, the high/low attack from Cub Swanson, takedowns from Georges St. Pierre, and switching from Anderson Silva.

“When you do all that put it together and practice it, you become a different person,” said Enilolobo.

Even though he has much to learn, the world still has much to learn about Eniilolobo. As Master Deratani explains, we haven’t seen his true potential yet:

“I’ll tell you, you haven’t seen much of what he can do. I have trained a long time. I was one of the people who could jump in the air and do unbelievable stuff, but I had to train a lot for it. With Pious I show him one time, or explain it to him, and one time, boom. This kid is good,” said Master Deratani.

Despite all of the praise he has gotten, Enilolobo is still very humble.

Enilolobo Jr. delivered a memorable post-fight interview after his match at Fight Night 4, in December 2013. (Photo by /University of MMA)

Enilolobo Jr. delivered a memorable post-fight interview after his match at Fight Night 4, in December 2013. (Photo by Primo Catalano/University of MMA)

University of MMA Rich Slaton dubbed Enilolobo the “pound-for-pound post-fight interview champion,” after the fighter stole the show with his interview at Fight Night 4. Master Deratani had encouraged Enilolobo to jump and scream, to let out his energy after the fight. However, even the fighter’s sensei didn’t realize what was coming.

In a moment that nobody expected from this stoic and soft-spoken man, Enilolobo wasted no time on the mic, first praising the late Nelson Mandela and Paul Walker, as well as thanking the U of MMA staff one-by-one, hugging staff photographer Primo Catalano, and polling the fans in a gladiatorial decree “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” In fact, Enilolobo’s post-fight performance inspired U of MMA heads Turi Altavilla and Jay Tan to rename their Freshman Honors award as the Blue Chip Honors, opening recognition to any fighter on the card with the best overall performance, showmanship and personality.

“He doesn’t talk that much. You know how you watch UFC, how the fighter who wins goes crazy and screams and runs around? It’s a lot of holding back and all of that tension is over now, so explode…but he exploded verbally.”

Thankfully, everyone will have a chance to see more of Enilolobo’s potential and possibly more exciting interviews as he plans on taking six more amateur fights before turning professional.

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