Wednesday, May 18, 2022

White Puts Tuivasa Into HW Picture Alongside Ngannou, Miocic, & Jones

UFC President Dana White has assessed where heavyweight contender Tai Tuivasa sits in the division following his knockout victory over Derrick Lewis.

At UFC 271 this past weekend, two of the UFC’s hardest hitters and most prolific KO artists collided. On one side was “The Black Beast” Lewis, the promotion’s KO record holder, who was coming off a main event finish against Chris Daukaus in December. Opposite him was the rising “Bam Bam” Tuivasa, who was coming off four consecutive stoppage wins.

Inside Houston’s Toyota Center, it was the younger and more durable Tuivasa who had his hand raised. After surviving an onslaught against the cage and firing back with his own bombs, the Australian hurt Lewis in the second round before knocking him out with a brutal elbow.

White Expects Tuivasa To Be “Mixing It Up” With The Best

Entering 2020, Tuivasa was on a three-fight losing skid following consecutive defeats to Junior dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov, and Sergey Spivak, and his place in the promotion looked insecure.

Having rebounded with victories over Stefan Struve and Harry Hunsucker, re-entered the rankings with memorable 2021 KO’s of Greg Hardy and Augusto Sakai, and now joined the elite conversation with a thunderous stoppage against two-time heavyweight title challenger Lewis, the sky appears to be the limit for “Bam Bam.”

That’s a sentiment that was shared by Dana White at the UFC 271 press conference. When asked where the Aussie’s latest win puts him in the division, the UFC President said he expects Tuivasa to experience a heavy rise up the heavyweight ladder come the next rankings update.

“Well, you guys are gonna rank him. But yeah, I mean, he should be top three, top five,” said White. “So wherever he shakes out in the rankings, yeah, he’ll be mixing it up with those guys.”

Indeed, yesterday it was confirmed that Tuivasa is ranked #3 in the heavyweight division. When assessing how the title picture now shapes up, White placed Tuivasa alongside reigning champion Francis Ngannou, consensus heavyweight GOAT Stipe Miocic, and former two-time light heavyweight king Jon Jones.

“We’ll see here pretty soon how this all plays out: Jones, Stipe, Francis, and Tai now, too.”

Not bad company is it?

From his pop classic walkouts to his post-fight shoeys to his brutal KO power, Tuivasa has captured the attention of just about every MMA fan and has grown to be perhaps the only universally loved fighter in the UFC.

But if his latest win shows the rest of the division anything, it’s that he’s not just an entertainer who likes a beer, he’s a bona fide title contender on the hunt for gold.

Who would you like to see Tai Tuivasa share the Octagon with next?

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