Despite his release having been confirmed earlier this year, heavyweight Tai Tuivasa is set to return to the octagon. At UFC 254, the Australian fighter will take on the towering Stefan Struve.
HOLD ON TO THOSE SHOES, BAM BAM IS BACK 👟🍺
— UFC_AUSNZ (@UFC_AUSNZ) September 24, 2020
UFC officials announced the news via social media on Thursday. That, despite Tuivasa (9-3) himself confirming that he had been released from the promotion. Pandemic era MMA makes for strange bedfellows, however, and there’s plenty of opportunity for fighters to compete if they’re willing — which Tuivasa clearly is.
“Bam Bam” started his career at 9-0, and made the “shoey” famous among UFC fans. But after winning three straight bouts to kick off his UFC tenure, he’d go on a three-fight skid. The most recent loss, thought to be his last inside the octagon, came at UFC 243 back in October, against Sergey Spivak.
What a difference a year makes. With bodies need to fill up cards, Tuivasa now gets another go, this time against the veteran Struve (29-12). “The Skyscraper” was last seen at UFC on ESPN 7, during which he endured multiple fouls in a losing effort against Ben Rothwell.
UFC 254, which takes place on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, UAE on October 24, is headlined by a lightweight title unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje.
The card is currently comprised of the following fights:
Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) vs. Justin Gaethje (ic)
Jared Cannonier vs. Robert Whittaker
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Islam Makhachev
Walt Harris vs. Alexander Volkov
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Lauren Murphy
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Sergey Morozov
Sam Alvey vs. Da Un Jung
Liana Jojua vs. Miranda Maverick
Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
Phil Hawes vs. Jacob Malkoun
Stefan Struve vs. Tai Tuivasa