Tai Tuivasa will face his toughest test in UFC this weekend when he takes on Frenchman Ciryl Gane in their heavyweight clash in Paris.
The Australian suffered a handful of losses early in his UFC career but has won his last four fights via knockout, most recently against Derrick Lewis earlier this year.
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Tuivasa, nicknamed “Bam Bam” for his brutal punching power, will become the No. 1 contender for Francis Ngannou’s heavyweight belt if he beats Gane early on Sunday morning (AEST).
“I need to go in there and fight my own fight, which I always do,” he told news.com.au.
“I feel like I’ve prepared good for this fight and I’m just excited. Ciryl’s a great competitor, a great athlete. I’m a pretty good fighter. I’m going to bite down on the mouthguard and push forward and test his chin.”
The Tuivasa-Gane fight is headlining the first ever UFC card in France and the Aussie is relishing the chance to be fighting in a high-profile bout.
“Definitely, it’s great to be part of history,” he said.
“It’s great for my resume. It’s one for the tick list and will be even better when f*** up the party.”
Asked about his hopes to become heavyweight champion one day, Tuivasa said: “I suppose I’m pretty close. I don’t really think about it too much.
“I know that a big win on the weekend will get me a bigger contract and bigger money and that to me, is my number one focus. I do this to support my family and have a better life.
“Obviously I’m close to the belt now and that will be a bonus and a present for my son.”
The gentle giant from western Sydney is in “a lot better headspace” than he was a few years ago and he said that’s reflected in his life in and out of the octagon.
“I’ve cleaned myself up a little bit,” Tuivasa said.
“I’m more in touch with myself and I’m a lot more happy. I’m enjoying what I’m doing and when I enjoy what I do it shows. Went through a tough trot there.
“I think I was doing a few too many things outside of the cage that weren’t in line with what I should be doing. But you know, it’s not how you get knocked down it’s how you get back up and I’m doing all right now you know. I’m feeling good.
“I feel like I’m shaping into a lot better fighter and a better person. The more happy I am, the better I’m getting at my job. I feel like I’m finding my feet in the sport and it’s showing.”
Tuivasa has become renowned for his brutal knockout blows but he will have to use his endurance in fights against the likes of Gane and Ngannou, which can be long and gruelling.
“I don’t reckon I can go past the first round,” the 29-year-old joked of his fighting style.
“Look, if I sink him I sink him. That’s not up to me. That’s up to them. Other people have their strengths in their fighting. My strength’s in my hand and my legs. It’s not up to me.
“I don’t ask them to go to sleep. They just go to sleep. That’s the fun thing about fighting — on paper and theoretically everything can be perfect but at the end of the day we get locked in a cage and it’s up to us and that’s the part I most enjoy.
“Stylistically, everyone’s different. I’m Bam Bam, I knock ***** out, that’s all I care about. I don’t care about everyone else, that’s not my business.
“I’m going to going in there and make it gritty, I’m going to put a show on for the fans. It’s the first one in Paris so let’s make it a good one.”
Also appearing on the card in Paris is another Australian middleweight Robert Whittaker, who is taking on Marvin Vettori.
How to watch Tuivasa vs Gane
It will be an early one on Sunday morning for Australian fans. The preliminary card will begin at 2am AEST, with the main card to get underway at 5am.
The main event of Tuivasa and Gane should kick off around 8am.
The fight card isn’t a pay-per-view so you can watch the fight on Fox Sports and Kayo for no extra cost.
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