Tavares (18-6) fights Omari Akhmedov (21-5-1) at UFC 264, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 10, 2021, via ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) with Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 3 serving as the main event. Should Tavares beat No. 13-ranked Akhmedov, a fight opposite “The Joker” next has him smiling.
“Honestly, I didn’t even look that far,” Tavares told MMAMania.com when asked about a next opponent. “We as fighters try not to look past the guy in front of us. It’s kind of disrespectful to look past an opponent you have in front of you. Obviously, I feel confident going into any and every fight that I’m going to come out victorious as I do with this one. Honestly, I haven’t really thought about it. One person that I wouldn’t mind fighting — ‘cause he’s called me out in the past when I was injured — is Jack Hermansson. So maybe our paths cross somewhere in the future.”
Tavares, 33, also discussed what it’s like experiencing tremors as UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou stomps around the mats of Xtreme Couture.
“Francis, that’s my little brother. You gotta ask him what it’s like being with a behemoth like myself. [A] little small guy like that,” he teased. “Nah. it’s fun though. I love Francis. He’s definitely become one of the brothers. I remember when he first came over to the States, before he was even with Xtreme Couture, I used to see him at the UFC Performance Institute. I’m a very playful guy, I’ll talk a lot of crap and razz people. I just remember Francis at the time had just come over, didn’t really know me, didn’t really speak too much English at the time, and here I am just talking crap to him. He would look at me and he probably didn’t understand what I was saying, and didn’t know me, he looked at me like was going to eat me. Over time he got to know me and the personality and we kind of have that playful relationship. It’s awesome being able to train with a guy like that. He’s a spectacle. Look at him. 6’5” of pure muscle and athleticism. But past the physical and athletic attributes, he’s a great guy, a great human being.”
Tavares took a unanimous decision over Antonio Carlos Jr. at UFC 257 in January. It marked his first win since April 14, 2018 — a technical knockout victory over Krzysztof Jotko — the longest winless gap of his professional career.
The Hawaiian-born fighter could not care less.
“I’m one of those guys who try to stay pretty positive, pretty optimistic. I don't see the sense in dwelling on the negative for too long,” he explained. “You have to soak it up. A loss is a loss and you have to learn and grow from that. But that being said, you can’t let it eat away at you. What good is that going to do? Every time I approach a fight, it’s a fresh slate all over again.
“I remember early on in my career, I was riding a five or six-fight streak before I fought Yoel Romero. In every interview I did, they brought up the streak,” he continued. “To me, I’m like that’s something I didn’t even think about. But because it became a thing, I think mentally in there [I believed it]. It makes you lose focus a little bit. It doesn’t matter. Your job is to go out there, perform, fight and win. You shouldn’t expect anything less. Regardless of if you are on a one, two or 10-fight winning streak, that shouldn’t play a factor. Same as the losses. Obviously, when you’re coming off losses over such a long time, it’s back there somewhere. But definitely not the main focus.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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