Even knocking a former NFL All-Star into tomorrow on one of the biggest UFC cards of the year didn’t change things for Tai Tuivasa — and that’s just how the big man likes it.
Key points:Tai Tuivasa returns to action at UFC 269 against Augusto SakaiThe Sydney heavyweight is riding a three-fight winning streakHis high-profile knockout of former NFL star Greg Hardy in July has made him a cult hero in America Tuivasa is coming off the most spectacular and high-profile win of his UFC career, a 67-second belting of Greg Hardy in July that propelled the Australian heavyweight to new heights of stardom.
Hardy’s fame from his NFL days, his notoriety for the domestic violence incidents that ended his football career, the fight’s place on the undercard of Dustin Poirier showdown with Conor McGregor, Tuivasa’s spectacular knockout win and the half-a-dozen shoeys he did with fans afterwards created a perfect storm for the 28-year-old to take his career to the next level.
But that’s not how “Bam Bam” likes to play it.
Tuivasa’s win over Hardy was the biggest of his career. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images(Getty)”It didn’t change much, I just got a few more Instagram followers. I’m still the same old me. But it was a good win, a good win over an idiot,” Tuivasa said.
“I love to be on those big cards in front of a big crowd. To secure a good win, and a good shoey, in front of a crowd like that is the cherry on top.
“I’m from a humble place. Where I’m from and where my people are from you can never get too far ahead of yourself. I’m still the same old me, a few things have changed along the way – like my attitude to training – but I’m still the same as a person. I’m the same old G.”
That change in attitude has helped Tuivasa revive a UFC career that momentarily looked on the ropes.
In 2018-19 he dropped three straight fights and was forced to reassess his priorities – one more defeat and he’d likely have received his marching orders from the company.
But Tuivasa rose to the challenge, with three consecutive first-round knockouts putting him back on track and a win against hard-hitting Brazilian Augusto Sakai on Sunday should propel him back into the top 15 at heavyweight.
“Before the UFC I was just fighting. As in, I’d rock up and fight people. I’ve been learning this whole MMA thing on the run, and once I made the UFC and got a few wins they tried to shoot me to the top and I came across a few losses,” Tuivasa said.
“But those losses made me better, took me back to the drawing board and took me back to square one.
Tuivasa has ripped off three spectacular wins in a row. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC”Now I’m really loving what I do, I enjoy the learning process. But I love fighting – if you could fight every weekend, like how you play footy every weekend, and never train then I’d sign up for that.
“But that’s not how it works, I have to train and learn new shit and get into it.”
But despite the new attitude, Tuivasa will still be playing the hits. You can bet on him choosing a karaoke classic for his walkout song (against Hardy he went with the Spice Girls classic “Wannabe”) and if he wins there’s going to be plenty of shoeys up and down the Vegas strip long into the night.
His strategy for taking down Sakai hasn’t changed either – for all he’s learned, there’s still only one road he wants to walk down.
“The new shit for this weekend? It’s gonna be knocking heads off. Maybe that’s not new, but some things never change.”
Posted 10 Dec 202110 Dec 2021Fri 10 Dec 2021 at 5:11am, updated 10 Dec 202110 Dec 2021Fri 10 Dec 2021 at 5:38am