Australian UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa made headlines two years ago when he chugged a “shoey” after securing victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 225.
Unfortunately, the heavyweight fighter affectionately known as “Bam Bam” hasn’t tasted success since.
Tuivasa has not recorded a victory in the Octagon since June 2018 — when he achieved his ninth consecutive MMA win and third in the UFC — but has a chance to rediscover his mojo at UFC 254 this weekend.
He was scheduled to face Syrian fighter Jarjis Danho in June, but the contest was postponed due to the coronavirus.
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So more than 12 months after he last stepped into the Octagon, the Australian will make his highly-anticipated return on Sunday (AEDT) when he comes up against Dutch fighter Stefan Struve on Fight Island in the United Arab Emirates.
Standing at 213cm, Struve’s height could be perceived as an advantage, but Tuivasa isn’t fazed.
“He’s tall, he’s big. However, the bigger they are, the harder they fall,” Tuivasa told news.com.au.
“I’ll try to bring him down to my level and go from there.”
Coming off three consecutive losses, the 27-year-old is adamant he’s learnt from past failures, specifically to keep his composure and take his time in the Octagon.
“Originally I was in America at the start of the year … I had to come back home and replan,” Tuivasa said.
“I feel good, excited now. Once you get to fight week, it’s always very exciting.
“I’ve been active all year … I feel like I’ve done enough to get myself prepared. I feel good, I feel really good.”
Both fighters are in desperate need of a win — the experienced Struve has only mustered one victory in his last five encounters.
Tai Tuivasa looks dejected after defeat against Serghei Spivac during UFC 243.Source:AAP
Joining Tuivasa in Abu Dhabi is Australian middleweight fighter Robert Whittaker, who will take on America’s Jared Cannonier in the co-main event on Sunday.
It will be the third time the Aussie duo feature on a UFC card together.
“Rob’s the champ. I expect him to come out flying like always,” Tuivasa said.
“Big Rob loves the computer loves the computer, so I haven’t really seen him to be honest.
“But it’s always good to have familiar faces.”
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, the UFC has been unable to allow spectators into events, something which Tuivasa believes will work to his advantage.
“Everyone who knows me knows I love a good crowd, but I think it might help me. I think it’s sometimes better for me not to listen to the crowds and maybe listen to my coaches more,” Tuivasa laughed.
“I’m easily influenced. A couple of big cheers and a couple of big woohoos, I think I’m doing well, but really I’ve got to keep my composure and take my time.
“I think it might be a good thing. Obviously I’d love to perform in front of a crowd, but I’m sure there will be a lot of people watching from home.
“It’s going to be weird, but we’ll see how it plays out.”
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