Simply being one of the only Top 10 contenders from Australia guarantees a considerable fan base, but there’s much more to “Bam Bam” then representing “The Land Down Under.” He’s an affable bloke, humble with a unique sense of humor. The shoeys are good-if-not-disgusting fun. Plus, 13 knockout wins in 14 victories is a sure-fire way to garner support. In fact, Tuivasa has only seen the judges twice in his entire career, win or lose. All of this adds up to equal a fan favorite slugger, one who serves as a major part of UFC 293’s appeal, particularly for the Australian fans ponying up big bucks to watch it live.
Sadly, his last two fights have seen Tuivasa go out on his shield. He put up a heck of an effort against Ciryl Gane, hurting the French kickboxer in the stand up more than anyone else. It was a strong showing despite the loss, but his follow up defeat to Sergei Pavlovich didn’t offer such a silver lining.
Though he still stands at No. 6 in the world, it’s hard not to feel like Tuivasa’s back is to the wall here. Circumstances aside, a pair of vicious knockout losses is a pair of vicious knockout losses. He could really use a win, see as his last victory came more than 18 months ago opposite Derrick Lewis in Feb. 2022 (watch it).
His bout this weekend (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) at UFC 293 against Alexander Volkov is so dangerous. “Drago” is not an unstoppable fighter, but he feels like a darn difficult style match for Australian slugger. Volkov has five inches of advantage in both reach and height, and Volkov knows how to use that range. Worse yet, he’s exceptionally good at stabbing his toes straight into his opponent’s belly, a tactic that Ciryl Gane used repeatedly to leave Tuivasa bent over at the waist, gasping for breath.
Tuivasa will have to find some way to close the distance and knock Volkov out within five minutes, or else those body kicks will shift his focus from winning the fight to keeping his lunch down. The problem is that Volkov is historically quite durable, having only been stopped by strikes once in his seven-year UFC career — the all-time great comeback loss to “The Black Beast.”
Tai Tuivasa met one of his fans on IG live and it’s the best thing you’ll see today. pic.twitter.com/vrmbi6KB5L— Alex Behunin (@AlexBehunin) March 22, 2021
The Australian fans are already being served up a battered fight card, relatively empty of marquee match ups and missing most of the region’s best representatives. Tuivasa is one of the few real highlights on the card and should have been matched appropriately. If he’s kicked endlessly from eight feet away and forced to crumble, that’s just a less-than-ideal scenario. This is a clear case where a step back was necessary to help rebuild Tuivasa’s position and would have only benefitted the fans, but instead, Tuivasa will have to overcome the odds and save the night for thousands of local fans.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 293 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPNN/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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