UFC Vegas 71: Mohammed Usman Turns Back Debuting Junior Tafa

Mohammed Usman and Junior Tafa, UFC Vegas 71
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 22: (L-R) Mohammed Usman of Nigeria attempts to take down Junior Tafa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Ultimate Fighter 30 heavyweight winner Mohammed Usman, brother of former UFC welterweight champ Kamaru, was assigned the task of welcoming Junior Tafa, brother of UFC heavyweight Justin Tafa, to the octagon at UFC Vegas 71 on Saturday.

In other words, it was a family affair, plus a contrast in body types, with Tafa an undersized heavyweight who had previously fought at 205, and Usman a mountain of muscle.

A minute into the fight Usman shot in on the legs trying to take the kickboxer down. Tafa did a good job keeping Usman upright. Tafa was defending well but had trouble getting his back off the cage. Usman wasn’t doing much but was wearing on Tafa with his physical strength. A minute left and Tafa escaped and went to work. He landed on Usman which had Usman on skates for the last minute. Tafa was throwing extremely wild but landed a few big shots getting that round back. Wild ending to the round after a stale first four minutes.

In round two there was a quickly failed takedown from Usman. Tafa got back to work throwing his hands. Every time he landed Usman’s body language was very concerning. Usman was able to grab a hold of Tafa and get the takedown finally. Usman was heavy on top but wasn’t improving his position. Usman wasn’t doing anything to improve his position. On the other side, Tafa was just lost off his back and ended the round there.

In the final round, both fighters were visibly tired. After the second round, Usman went right after the takedown and eventually got it. More stalling from Usman on top but Tafa had no answer to get back to his feet. With a minute left Tafa did eventually get to his feet and did hurt Usman with an uppercut but ran out of time. They’d go to the scorecards, with all three judges seeing it the same.

Official Result: Mohammed Usman def. Junior Tafa by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)