Summer Tapasa’s life underwent major changes in the last few months.
The Hawaiian native moved to Las Vegas and got a job with the UFC after becoming one of the biggest viral sensations of 2020.
Her new life is consequence of a series of unexpected events that led Tapasa from working at a Best Buy in Waimulu, Hawaii, to working as security in the world’s premier MMA organization.
Tapasa’s wild turn of events began a couple of days before Christmas, when a customer who got away with theft returned for a second helping.
“I was telling myself, ‘This can’t be the guy, this can’t be the guy. There’s no way he’s brave enough to come in here and pull this again,’” Tapasa told MMA Junkie, recalling the moment she spotted the man who allegedly stole a speaker from the store two days prior.
“I watched him walk to the exact same speaker he took on Saturday and watched him pick it up. I could see that he’s looking at me, looking at the cashier, looking at me, looking at the cashier, and back at me. Automatically, my heart was beating, and I literally told myself, ‘Get ready, this is him.’”
The alleged thief had no idea what was in store. He expected to walk out of Best Buy once again with a brand-new speaker. However, Tapasa had different plans, and one way or another, the alleged thief was going to pay.
“I could see him charging for the door,” Tapasa said. “It was wide open. Nobody was coming in, nobody was coming out. And as he started running, I already knew that I had to do something. I wasn’t going to let this guy come in here and do it again. He’s not going to do it again, because if I don’t stop him, he’s never going to stop – he’s going to keep coming in and thinking it’s OK, and who knows, he might even try other stores.
What happened next transpired in seconds. The alleged thief made a run for the exit, but this time Tapasa made sure he wasn’t getting away with the merchandise.
“He was running towards the door, and I just start shoving him, and he just wouldn’t stop,” Tapasa said. “In the video you can see me shoving him towards a barrier, it was a cardboard barrier. And we go through it, and that’s when I wrapped my arms around him and I went down. At that time, my co-worker intervened, he kind of helped me out. We hit the floor. I can feel that my shirt was over my head, and I was like, ‘You’re kidding me. I have all these people, they’re probably looking at me right now because of this scene that we just created, and my shirt is over my head.
“So I pushed down on him so he can let go of my shirt, and that’s when I got up because my co-worker was on the floor; he looked like he was going to kick my co-worker in the face,” she continued. “That’s why I walked towards him, so he could back up. Once he was outside, I wanted to drag him back in, but I could hear my manager saying, ‘Let him go, let him go. Just leave it,’ which is why he ended up walking away that night.”
It was a wild scene fueled by Tapasa’s fearless actions. It was also mission accomplished: The speaker was still in Best Buy’s hands, and moral justice had been served.
Soon after the alleged thief walked away, co-workers rushed to Tapasa’s side to make sure she was unharmed. Police arrived at the scene, but a report was never filed.
Tapasa then sent a video to her sister to tell her about her wild day at work, and that’s where it all blew up.
“The video wasn’t even supposed to get out,” Tapasa said. “That night, I took a video of the surveillance video and I sent it to my sister. It was just kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I have to go through at work,’ kind of just venting to her. But she took it upon herself to post it on Twitter and sure enough, Twitter does what it does, and that’s how it went viral.”
The video quickly spread on the internet, gathering the attention of many, including UFC president Dana White. The video that White posted on Twitter has more than seven million views. Different versions were posted across many other platforms. Tapasa never imagined the incident could go as viral as it did.
But due to Best Buy company policy, Tapasa was terminated from her job. White, however, rewarded Tapasa for her actions, and flew out her to watch Conor McGregor’s return victory over Donald Cerrone in the front row at January’s UFC 246 in Las Vegas. The trip also came with a job offer.
“When I got to Vegas for UFC 246, he was there immediately asking me if I wanted to come work for him, and he was already talking about the job offer,” Tapasa said. “When I went back (to Hawaii), I weighed all of my options, but I just really wanted to work for him.”
Tapasa knew what she wanted, but even then, it was hard to make the decision to leave Hawaii and relocate to Las Vegas.
“It was kind of hard for me,” Tapasa said. “Of course I wanted to work for him. Of course I wanted to work for UFC. In my head, I already had it in mind that I wanted to move here and work for him, but the only hard part was my family. I’m with my husband here in Vegas, we live with some family here, so the transition wasn’t too bad, but my parents are my everything, and leaving them in Hawaii was the hardest part.”
Change is not easy, but Tapasa is happy to have taken the opportunity to work as security for the UFC. She said her husband is very happy for her, as he’s a huge UFC fan. She’s especially enjoying the difference in management’s approach at her new job.
“My bosses compared to my bosses in Best Buy, they have my back and they even told me, if someone steps out of line, don’t be afraid,” Tapasa said.