Tai Tuivasa’s rise through the heavyweight rankings may have hit a roadblock in the form of consecutive losses to Junior dos Santos and Blagoy Ivanov, but “Bam Bam” doesn’t look at his main card fight against Sergey Spivak as a step backwards.
“Any fight in the UFC is the pinnacle of the sport,” he told Sherdog.com at the UFC 243 media day. “For me, I get offered a fight, and I say yes. Sergey was the name they gave me. When it comes to fighting, I’m a bit of a yes man. That was it. It is what it is. I’ve lost to two former champs, so I’m sweet. I ain’t dead, sh—t! I just lost a couple of fights.”
Tuivasa last fought in June where he dropped a lackluster decision to Ivanov, but since then he claims to have made serious improvements to his training regimen in pursuit of a victory. The way he tells it, he’s never felt better in camp, and he expects to pull out a resounding victory against “The Polar Bear.”
“This camp’s been awesome,” he said. “I’ve been doing strength and conditioning. I’ve never really done strength and conditioning before. I feel good. Every day I’m learning something new in this sport. I kind of came into this sport as a tough nut, a street fighter, and bit by bit I’m learning more and more. My love for the sport is growing more and more. I’m looking forward to getting back in there and f—king doing a shoey after a win.”
Asked about whether his losses have affected his outlook on the fight game, Tuivasa admits to loathing the taste of defeat, but he also points out that there are worse things in life than coming up short in a cage fight.
“I’ve lost bigger things than fights,” he said soberly. “I lost a friend yesterday. It is what it is, this is life. Where I’m from, life can be taken at any second. It doesn’t… I sent my love to [Daniel] King’s family. I got a job to do Sunday, and I’m gonna go out there and represent him as much as I can.”
“I think it’s a big subject,” Tuivasa continued, in apparent reference to Daniel King, a former rugby player turned bodybuilder who was yesterday shot dead by police after opening fire on a family home before shooting at two police stations in Wester Sydney. “It’s been all over the news and what not. I’ve known him since I was four years old. He obviously suffered mental issues coming towards the end. It ended out how it ended out. It is what it is, and I just feel for his kids and his family.”
Tuivasa’s fight with Spivak is the third last on the card, giving him the opportunity to get backstage, have a shower and settle in for the main event putting middleweight champion Robert Whittaker versus interim titleholder Israel Adesanya. Asked to weigh in on who he thinks takes it, Tuivasa pledged his loyalty to his Australian compatriot.
“I’m friends with both of them -- my two brothers,” he said. “But I’m an Aussie. I gotta draw the line in the sand, you know? I have to stick on this side of the world. It’s like going for the f--cking All Blacks. I gotta go for the Aussie in this one.”
Jacob Debets is a law graduate and writer from Melbourne, Australia. He is currently writing a book analyzing the economics and politics of the MMA industry. You can view more of his writing at jacobdebets.com.