UFC 271 Australia time, card: Tai Tuivasa v Derrick Lewis

UFC 271 Australia time, card: Tai Tuivasa v Derrick Lewis


A UFC cult figure, beer from his shoe and bizarre walkout songs – think Celine Dion and Spice Girls – Tai Tuivasa says people are in for a shock when they see him beat Derrick Lewis this weekend.

Tai Tuivasa was walking through the UFC fighter hotel here in Houston, Texas on Tuesday when a fellow patron, excitedly, and in Spanish, started talking into his iPhone to some friend about exactly who was walking by.

None of which we could make out.

Or at least not until we heard that unmistakable Aussie phrase which, it seems, is universal — Shooooey.

“And I love that,” the Mt Druitt heavyweight says later, kicked back in the hotel lounge.

“Why wouldn’t you?

“People will come up and say ‘hey, aren’t you the Shoey Guy?’.

“And I say, ‘yeah, that’s what I do’.

“There’s some people out there who don’t even think I train.

“Honestly, there are actually people believe I sit in a pub all day drinking beers.”

Yet the truth about his days?

“I f … ing train two, three times,” says the heavyweight now on a run of four straight UFC knockouts, including two under 50 seconds.

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“So I don’t care what people think.

“Same as I don’t care how good you are, or how good people say you are.

“If I hit you right, you’re going out.

“Because I might be that guy who drinks beer from a shoe, but I’m also one of the world’s best fighters.”

A UFC cult figure all about the signature shoey, highlight reel finishes and bizarre walkout songs – think Celine Dion, Spice Girls, even Barbie Girl by Aqua — Tuivasa is now gunning to prove himself a genuine title contender at UFC 271 this Sunday.

That, and steal the title of UFC Knockout King from Derrick Lewis.

Which is no small thing.

Especial when you consider the American favourite not only boasts more KO finishes than any fighter in UFC history, with 13, but also has the phrase Knockout King inked large across his chest.

The piece, a jailhouse work that involved tapping into an Exit sign for the electricity.

Apart from sitting No.3 in the heavyweight division, or having won five of his past six, Lewis is also currently a -192 favourite with Las Vegas bookies.

Tuivasa, meanwhile, is +154.

“But for me, I think this fight is a passing of the torch,” the Aussie says of his blockbuster curtain-raiser to Robert Whittaker v Israel Adesanya II.

“Derrick Lewis and I, we’re similar guys.

“We both have a lot of fans. Are both loved by our fans.

“And I’ve been a fan of his for a long time too.

“He’s the KO King. But I think it’s my time. My time to take over. It’s how life works.

“Once the old KO King is done, a new one comes in to take over.

“And I plan to finish this fight.”

Which would certainly see Tuivasa join some illustrious company.

Currently on the longest active knockout streak in the UFC, another KO will see the 28-year-old join an elite group of only 10 fighters who have recorded streaks of five finishes or more.

It will also put Bam Bam in striking distance of UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, who owns the record with seven straight knockouts.

Asked what he knew about any of the above, Tuivasa laughed: “Mate, I don’t even know what day it is half the time.

“So I’m not studying stats.

“But I know payday is fight day. Then we party after that.

“Because obviously I’m not fighting for the belt yet.

“But I win this weekend, it puts me into the conversation for everything.”

Which leaves only the question of how it all goes down?

“I’m just going to finish,” he insists.

“Because if not, Derrick Lewis finishes me.”

Originally published as UFC 271: Tai Tuivasa’s plan to steal KO King title from Derrick Lewis



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Author: Shirley