UFC: Tai Tuivasa could headline blockbuster in Australia

Tai Tuivasa emerged as the biggest winner of UFC 271 thanks to a stunning KO. He earned a $50,000 bonus, is about to take his ranking as high as No.3 – and potentially headline on home soil.

Mt Druitt heavyweight Tai Tuivasa could be headlining an Australia blockbuster by August, with UFC president Dana White confirming his interest in having the fight company “travel around having fun again”.

While Israel Adesanya retained the middleweight title at UFC 271, it was 28-year-old Tuivasa who emerged the biggest winner thanks to his stunning KO of American cult favourite Derrick Lewis.

Apart from his vicious elbow earning a UFC $50,000 bonus – which will come in handy as he jets out this week for Cancun, Mexico – the fighter dubbed “Bam Bam” is also about to take his ranking as high as No.3

That, and potentially headline on home soil.

Already, senior UFC executives have been in talks to bring a Pay-Per-View Down Under in the second half of this year, with August the month being mentioned.

Tai Tuivasa celebrates after winning his UFC 271 heavyweight fight against Derrick Lewis. Picture: Getty Images
Tai Tuivasa celebrates after winning his UFC 271 heavyweight fight against Derrick Lewis. Picture: Getty Images

New Zealand superstar Adesanya has also spoken of wanting to headline himself in Australia sometime in 2022, while also revealing after his decision win over Robert Whittaker that he wants back into the cage by June.

Adesanya and Tuivasa would be an outstanding Australian double act, especially given the street fighter from western Sydney has now kayoed the division’s No.3 contender.

Asked about his company returning to the road as the ongoing Covid pandemic eased, White said: “I told you guys it would be Texas, Las Vegas, Florida for a while, and I was right.

“But it seems like things are loosening up.

“So if that happens we’ll start travelling around and having fun again.”

Tai Tuivasa emerged as the biggest winner of UFC 271 following his victory against Derrick Lewis. Picture: Getty Images
Tai Tuivasa emerged as the biggest winner of UFC 271 following his victory against Derrick Lewis. Picture: Getty Images

Elsewhere, White also suggested Tuivasa now deserved to be “top three, top five” and described his vicious elbow KO of Lewis as “awesome”.

The UFC boss also downed beer backstage from a "Shoeyvasa" – the new, plastic skolling device that, created by Tuivasa, and shaped like a shoe, allows punters a Shoey experience without ruining their kicks

So as for how he went?

“He f***ing did alright,” Tuivasa revealed later.

“He downed the whole thing.”

As for who the new UFC heavyweight contender would like to fight next – Ciryl Gane, Stipe Moicic, maybe even champion Francis Ngannou?

“Brah, I don’t even know who the f*** is in the top five,” he cackled.

“I don’t watch fighting.

“I heard there’s the Stipes and Ciryl Ganes and all that up there.

“But this is my job.

“I rock up, prepare with my team, and we f***ing punch on.”

Tai Tuivasa could be headlining an Australia blockbuster by August. Picture: Getty Images
Tai Tuivasa could be headlining an Australia blockbuster by August. Picture: Getty Images

Despite his devastating finish, Tuivasa also showed tremendous courage, and some chin, when taken down by Lewis in round one and held against the cage.

While the Aussie was eventually able to find his feet, it was only after taking several heavy head shots from that man with most knockouts of any UFC heavyweight.

“But I wasn’t really hurt,” Tuivasa said.

“I was just, if I stay here I’m going to end up f***ing asleep. So I needed to move.

“That was pretty much it.

“He hit me couple of times and I thought ‘f***, I’ve gotta move’.

“But while I got hit, I didn’t feel I was in danger.

“I just thought, move or you’ll be in danger. So I was all right.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a banger from western Sydney — and we bang on with anyone.”

Hunt also paid credit to his great mate, longtime training partner and mentor Mark Hunt.

“People ask me ‘how did Derrick hit?’,” he said.

“I was Mark’s punching bag for a long time. I think he trained me up well enough.

“I love my uso Mark.”