UFC heavyweight power puncher Tai Tuivasa accepted a fight against record-setting knockout artist Derrick Lewis, a titanic tilt that joins the UFC 271 pay-per-view (PPV) main card next week in Houston, Texas.
But Tuivasa didn’t realize he agreed to the bout until the following morning.
“I was on the piss; I was blind [drunk],” Tuivasa revealed to ESPN. “I didn’t notice until the next morning that [UFC matchmaker] Mick Maynard messaged me and I had messaged back. He messaged, ‘Are you awake,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah’; it was like 4:30 in the morning. And then I woke up to 20 missed calls from my manager, from my coach Sully [Shaun Sullivan] and shit like that, so I was like, ‘Something must have happened.’”
After dropping three in a row and fighting for his job, Tuivasa (13-3) went on to win four straight — all by way of knockout — including his first-round destruction of Augusto Sakai as part of the UFC 269 event last December.
“It’s a great opportunity” Tuivasa continued. “Obviously, he’s No. 2 or No. 3 or whatever he is. He’s a fan favorite; I’m a fan favorite. I really respect Derrick, what he’s done and the person he is. Why wouldn’t I say yes? I think it’s all win-win, it’s an opportunity for me, so I’m all in. And I think it’s my time, it’s my time to take over and become the new [revered] fighter of my generation, just like he was before me. I think it’s my time to take over.”
Lewis (26-8, 1 NC) was unsuccessful in his bid to capture the interim heavyweight crown, falling to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 last August. Undaunted, “The Black Beast” roared back to obliterate Chris Daukaus at the UFC Vegas 45 event back in December, the Texan’s fifth win across his last six fights.
Just don’t ask him to do a “Shoey” when the smoke clears on Feb. 12 in Houston.