Las Vegas, NV — Heavyweight The Ultimate Fighter 30 finalist Zac Pauga is appreciative of his time on TUF, which might come as a surprise to some.
Much has been made of the stresses experienced on the show, from being isolated, away from friends and family, to personality clashes in the TUF house.
“For me it was the best route available,” Pauga (5-0) told media outlets including Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 59 media day on Wednesday. This Saturday’s Fight Night card will host the TUF 30 finales, at heavyweight and women’s flyweight. “The goal was to get to the UFC, and The Ultimate Fighter was just the perfect time and the perfect place to do it. If I was going to try to wait for a Contender Series fight, I would be here fighting on the Contender Series right now instead of fighting in the UFC. For me it was awesome, I love it, great experience, and I’m really glad I did it.”
Pauga, for one, didn’t find the detachment of the show to be a challenge. “For me, no. I actually really enjoyed it,” said Pauga. “I know some people in the house had some struggles, and it was kind of breaking a lot people. I’m a little bit older than most of the contestants. I grew up without a phone, I grew up without internet. So it just reminded me of my childhood being in there, honestly.”
There were bits and pieces of the show that fans didn’t get to see, Pauga revealed. Among them, Helen Peralta weighing in topless, with tape over her nipples. And a lot of jokes at Pauga’s expense.
“I came from a law enforcement background, there was a lot of pig jokes and a lot of people making fun of me for being a cop and things like that,” he stated. “None of that made it on the show, I don’t know why either. They kind of kept most of the drama off the show for some reason this season.”
Pauga has spent his career at light heavyweight, until moving to heavyweight for The Ultimate Fighter 30. While he plans on an eventual 205 return, he’s already naming names in the heavyweight division.
“There’s a lot of heavyweights that were signed during COVID that I would really like to beat up and I don’t think are very good,” Pauga said. “But when I say that I want to be the UFC champion, I mean the light heavyweight champion.”
As to who he’d like to beat up, “I’ll tell you their names right now: Parker Porter, I don’t even know his first name but Collier, I don’t know if it’s Justin or Jared. Jake. These guys, they got lucky that they had the fights when COVID was going, and they just needed anyone who could show up and fight. And after I beat Mohammed [Usman], I would love to come in and beat those guys too.”
Zac Pauga faces Mohammed Usman in the TUF 30 finale this Saturday, August 6, 2022 at the Apex in Las Vegas, NV.