Tai Tuivasa: Training at AKA was a wake up call

Australian heavyweight Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa entered the UFC in 2017 with a 6-0 record, and in his league debut earned performance-bonus winning flying knee KO in Round 1. Then he charmed the hardcore MMA fanbase with a shooey. Less than seven months later he was 3-0 in the UFC, coming off a win over former division champion Andrei Arlovski. At just 25 years old, in a division where fighters peak in the mid-30s, Bam Bam appeared to be a major star in the making.

Then Tuivasa lost three in row, via TKO, decision, and submission, to Junior dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov, and Sergey Spivak, respectively. Bam Bam heads into a fight vs. Stefan Struve at UFC 254 on Saturday afternoon, in the important spot at the top of the prelims – the UFC expects the fight to be so good, fans on the fence will cough up money to watch the PPV. It has been over a year since Tuivasa fought, and he has used the time wisely.

He recently flew around the planet to train at AKA in San Jose, under founder Javier Mendez, former division champ Cain Velasquez, and former champ champ Daniel Cormier. Tuivasa talked about the experience at a UFC 254 pre-fight scrum.

“It was a bit of a wake-up call,” said Tuivasa. “Like, kind of shows you where you’re at in terms of – my fighting is good, I’m a good fighter, but when it comes to MMA, I kind of had to, and I’m an honest fellow. Being in Australia you might be in a room with three killers or one killer.

“Walking in a row with one hundred of them opens your eyes and gives you a benchmark of where you’re at. But to be welcomed as I did at AKA by DC and by Javier and by the boys, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

“I think over my time in the UFC, I think I’ve learned don’t be the young bull and try to get it all at once, so I think I’m ready for a three-round fight, not just physically but mentally. I think before I wasn’t really mentally thinking like that, you know what I mean? So I’m definitely ready to fight three fives, but you know me, once we’re in there and if I see the opening, I’m gonna definitely be going for it.”

h/t  Farah Hannoun and John Morgan for MMA Junkie

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