Entering 2020, Tuivasa was towards the bottom of the ladder having lost three straight fights inside the Octagon, with Junior dos Santos and Sergey Spivak finishing him inside the distance, and Blagoy Ivanov outpointing him.
But after a year away from action, “Bam Bam” returned revitalized and ready to begin a journey that now has him one step from the top.
After rebounding by knocking Stefan Struve out on Fight Island, the Australian powerhouse carried that form into 2021, stopping Harry Hunsucker, Greg Hardy, and Augusto Sakai for a four-fight win streak, whilst also enhancing his reputation as an always-entertaining figure through his memorable walkouts and cage-wall shoeys.
After passing the test presented by Derrick Lewis earlier this year, flatlining “The Black Beast” with a vicious elbow at UFC 271, Tuivasa has been paired with a former interim titleholder and the current #1-ranked contender.
As he prepares to throw down in enemy territory for what will be the UFC’s first-ever event in France, Tuivasa is getting set for an opportunity to move a sizeable step closer to a previously unlikely title challenge — something that was recently acknowledged by the promotional chief.
White Outlines What’s At Stake For Tuivasa
Speaking to the press at the conclusion of this week’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC president was asked whether this weekend’s Paris-held headliner could be considered a title eliminator.
With that in mind, White was hesitant to make any confirmation or lean towards too many outcomes. However, he did note that with a victory in the French capital, Tuivasa will be next in line.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s how it works. If Tai wins, obviously he’s next in line,” White said. “And the Ciryl fight (versus Ngannou at UFC 270) was close. I don’t make the fight before the fight, anything is possible. But we don’t know how any of this is gonna play out because the heavyweight champ is still hurt anyway. But whoever wins on Saturday is right there.”
Tuivasa will certainly have his work cut out in achieving that feat. If there’s one man who’s shown an innate ability in avoiding the great heavyweight equalizer that is power, it’s “Bon Gamin.”
But if “Bam Bam” has taught the MMA community anything throughout his ongoing run of form, it’s that his fists can never be counted out — and that a can of beer and trainer will be close by…
Who do you think will have their hand raised in Paris this weekend, Tai Tuivasa or Ciryl Gane?