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Placer grad finds life in the cage to his liking

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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At 22 years old, Sunny Kandola is pretty much a normal young man finding his way through life full of hope for the future. He’s newly married and working full time with his father, Sam, at their family store, the Foothill Market on E. Lincoln Way in Auburn. Three years ago Kandola took up self-defense for a hobby and to stay in shape. He started working out at Auburn Martial Arts with owner and instructor Dan Lovas. He started with Brazilian Jujitsu, and was soon in the American kickboxing class, then began studying mixed martial arts and was sparring regularly and participating in regional amateur tournaments. The training clicked for Kandola and he enjoyed the contact. MMA (mixed martial arts) is a full-contact sport consisting of standing strikes-boxing, kickboxing, and karate. Kandola excelled and with encouragement from Lovas took his skills to the next level turning pro. Last Friday night Kandola had his first bout as a professional in the Gladiator Challenge at the Colusa Casino. Kandola’s first fight consisted of three, three-minute rounds, with a one minute rest between each round. Cagefighting is an evolving sport. Fighters train to be good at standing strikes and grappling ground skills. Kandola excels at standing strikes, punches and kicks. His opponent was Robert Ballard, who is very skilled at ground wrestling attacks. Kandola struggled and was defeated in the second round. But the loss has not deterred his passion for the sport he has come to enjoy. His training is now focused on ground techniques, wrestling and submission holds, as he readies for his next bout. “I was in the moment, not knowing what to expect, what was going to happen,” said Kandola of his first fight. “When you lose a bout you learn what your weaknesses are, but I'm training and getting ready to go for my next fight.” The 2004 Placer High School graduate has the support of his father, though his mother and wife are a little apprehensive about his fighting. Kandola continues to train daily and lives in Penryn with his wife.