Las Vegas, NV — Heavyweight Tai Tuivasa admits that he was rocked in his fight with Greg Hardy at UFC 264 on Saturday.
“I was rocked. He touched me, and yeah. I felt it, and I knew, maybe take a couple steps back,” Tuivasa told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. But against Hardy, there was one key difference. “I think the old me would have put the head down and threw some more bombs. Now I feel like I’m maturing in this game, and I had to step back. And I caught him on the way in.”
Caught him he did, knocking Hardy out cold in the opening round to claim his third straight win.
To start the affair, Hardy had actually pointed to the middle of the octagon, the age-old signal for “let’s stand and bang until someone falls down.”
“He won’t point in the middle again,” suggested Tuivasa, who became something of an instant star with the win. His celebratory shoey (drinking beer out of a shoe), along with the general dislike of Hardy, had the fans firmly behind him. Walking out to the Spice Girls didn’t hurt either, especially given Tuivasa was clearly having a blast.
“As long as everyone feels it, that’s my thing,” Tuivasa said of the song selection. “Just to feel the crowd back, f*ck, what a buzz.”
As for Hardy, “everyone hates him. But he’s got a bit of a head on him, and he was talking a bit of whack. Trying to point in the middle of the cage, Bruh. Not me. I’m not the one.”
Tuivasa does hope the win pushes him to the next level. “I hope so. I hope so. You’ve seen me, I’ve been on a three fight winning streak, three fight losing streak, and now I’m back on a three fight winning streak,” he said. “I feel like I’m maturing, I feel like I’m getting better. I’m actually loving what I’m doing, to be honest. And I think it’s showing in the cage.”
Asked who he wants to fight next, Tuivasa claimed to not even know anyone in the top ten, or top fifteen. “It sounds good. One of them. Any of them. I fight. You tell me who I’m fighting, I rock up. Simple.”
Watch the full UFC 264 post-fight press scrum with Tai Tuivasa above.