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‘Being Mark Hunt’s punching bag for years’ prepared Tai Tuivasa for Derrick Lewis

Following his big win over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa discussed how hard “The Black Beast” hits and how he feels about suddenly being a Top 5-ranked fighter at heavyweight.

What a difference one fight can make.

Leading into 2022, few people were talking about Tai Tuivasa as a legitimate Heavyweight contender. He’s just that goofy Australian with the shoe gimmick. Lots of fun, love seeing him knockout dudes like Greg Hardy. But, surely the wheels would fall off against a Top 5-seeded Heavyweight monster like Derrick Lewis.

Well, we’re here to tell you they didn’t. Not only did Tuivasa beat Lewis at UFC 271 in Houston, Texas, last night (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022), “Bam Bam” did it playing Lewis’ game, swanging and banging against the cage and finishing “The Black Beast” with a brutal elbow that left the hometown hero facedown on the canvas. We don’t know exactly where No. 11-ranked Tuivasa will end up after beating No. 3-ranked Derrick, but it’s got to be somewhere near the Top 5.

At the post-fight press conference (watch it here), Tuivasa took his imminent arrival to the top of the division in stride.

“Brah, to be honest I don’t even know who the f—k’s in the Top 5,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t even watch fighting, breh. Like I said, I heard there’s the Stipes, the Cyril Ganes and all that up there. But, this is my job. I rock up, I prepare with my team, and we f—king punch on.”

Things got a bit hairy for Tuivasa early in the fight when Lewis got him down against the cage and absolutely pummeled him as he struggled back to his feet.

“We had a bit of a swang and a bang and we had a f—kin’ little bit of a wrestle as well,” Tuivasa said. “Mixed martial arts, here we go ... I got a few bumps on the head, that’s for sure.... I didn’t feel I was in too much of a danger. But, he’s the knockout king, he’s got heavy hands. He’s a big boy. I definitely felt ‘em but I was still in the game. So that was sweet.

“People ask me how Derrick hits,” he continued. “I was Mark Hunt’s punching bag for a long time, I think he trained me up and perked me up well enough.”

When asked if knocking out the “Knockout King” made him the Knockout King, “Bam Bam” demurred.

“He’s got the accolades, he’s done it for many years,” Tuivasa said. “And like I said, he’s had his time and I think this is the passing of the torch. And if I keep up doing what I’m doing and focusing on what I need to focus on, I will one day take over.”

As far as his reputation for being the shoey guy rather than a legit contender goes, Tai didn’t sound too bothered by it.

“I don’t mind being the guy who drinks p—s out of shoes and this and that,” he said. “I suppose everyone focuses on all that, but at the end of the day, I’m knocking the best in the world out. So it’s up to yous to take it however that is.

“Like I said, I’ve got a great team behind me now,” he concluded. “I’ve got guys who have the best interest for me, and f—k, we’re doing alright, you know what I mean? We’re knocking out the best in the world, bruh. We’re here.”

For complete UFC 271: “Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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