It was the bullying and racism he experienced at high school in Rotorua that led to his martial arts career. "I decided to learn to protect myself."
He thinks New Zealanders need to confront racism by being more open about it.
"It's like oh, if we don't talk about it, it doesn't exist. But it's here, something as evil as what happened in Christchurch, that should show you that shit is alive and well."
He believes racism in New Zealand is often downplayed.
"Let's talk about it healthily and honestly. But actually you don't have to agree with people - you just have to find a way to live with them in harmony."
Charismatic and articulate, his conversation is peppered with pop culture references: movies, music and digs at his opponents and detractors, both UFC rivals and social media watchers.
"I don't care what race, sexual orientation or religion you are, I'm Mr Worldwide" he says.
It's easy to see his appeal for the money men behind the UFC – but it's still hard to equate the relaxed, chatty young man with the fearsome martial artist he is in the cage- ruthlessly dispatching opponents with almost superhuman ease.
"Are you actually a violent person?"
"I'm like a golden retriever, like I'm friendly and open minded," he says. "But then if you back me into a corner…you don't want to do that, you know what I mean?"
Way bigger money in a Yoel fight I’d say, wouldn’t be the first guy to get a shot at the belt off a loss either. I think Cannonier will fight Whittaker or Kelvin next (assuming Kelvin beats Till)I think Cannonier is more deserving at this point, though no one really stands out as obvious after Costa. But, that said, I would love to see Romero fight Izzy. Will be crazy fun!
I agree, especially given how close the Romero/Costa fight was. Kelvin is a while away from a rematch. Though, if the numbers for the Whittaker fight were good, they might run that back too. I hope not though- I love Whittaker but I like variety in title fights.Way bigger money in a Yoel fight I’d say, wouldn’t be the first guy to get a shot at the belt off a loss either. I think Cannonier will fight Whittaker or Kelvin next (assuming Kelvin beats Till)