Brad Tavares would have been happier facing a Top 10 contender in “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale main event on Friday in Las Vegas, but he seems more than willing to try to derail the Israel Adesanya hype train. Well aware of his opponent’s kickboxing credentials, Tavares remains confident, especially with former K-1 star and current Professional Fighters League President Ray Sefo in his corner.
Before he squares off with the unbeaten Adesanya, here are five things you might not know about the 30-year-old Tavares:
1. His mom initially did not approve of his getting into MMA.
Like any rational parent who dreads the idea of someone inflicting bodily harm on their child, Tavares’ mother was against him training in MMA. However, fighting was something he always wanted to pursue. A self-confessed mama’s boy who made it a point to get his mother’s approval on big decisions, the Hawaiian found it hard to train regularly early on in his journey. When Tavares signed up for his first fight, his mother could not bring herself to watch. Later, some encouragement from other family members helped put her mind at ease. Tavares now has his mother’s full support.
2. He was still in his teens when he started fighting professionally.
When he was 19, Tavares entered his first professional MMA competition in Honolulu. His opponent was Thomas Sedano, a man he stopped by technical knockout in only 40 seconds. This was followed by six consecutive wins, including two in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He defeated Seth Baczynski and veteran Phil Baroni before bowing to Aaron Simpson in his third Octagon appearance.
3. He was a star linebacker in high school.
Tavares has always been something of an athletic specimen. While he never had any formal training in martial arts as a child, he excelled in other sports. He played football for Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawaii, and was no slouch on the gridiron, as he was a star linebacker for the Warriors. Meanwhile, he also competed in track and field -- he threw the shot put and discus -- and rowing.
4. He previously worked as a ramp agent.
Before hitting it big with his fighting skills, Tavares worked as a ramp agent for Hawaiian Airlines. In fact, he kept his day job while still in his formative years in combat sports. When he entered “The Ultimate Fighter 11” as the season’s youngest fighter, Tavares immediately piqued the interest of viewers by knocking out his elimination-round opponent in less than a minute.
5. He loves playing video games.
Like many other athletes, Tavares spends a good amount of time in front of a game console. Apart from playing video games, he also loves spending time at the beach -- a pastime not nearly as available to him now that he trains out of Las Vegas.