Justin Tafa hasn’t been in the UFC long, but his no-nonsense style means he’s fast becoming a fan favourite.
The 27-year-old lost a split decision to Carlos Felipe in his last outing. It was an action-packed affair and one which he felt should have gone his way.
The Kiwi is back in action this weekend at UFC Vegas 27: ‘Font vs Garbrandt’ where he’ll take on Jared Vanderaa (11-5)
“I was a bit hard done by my last fight so all I can do is keep putting on a show and fight my heart out. I don’t know if he likes to stand and bang but I can stand and bang for sure,” Justin Tafa (4-2 MMA) told BJPenn.com.
“He’s alright. I don’t see much of him. He’s not a real good striker he’s not a real outstanding grappler. He’s just a big boy that punches long.”
“Expect a war. I’m coming to bring a war. I hope he brings the same energy,” he added.
‘Bad Man’ arrived in the UFC in 2019 with a 3-0 record. His nickname was well-earned having knocked out all three opponents. He got off to a rough start and suffered a first round loss to Yorgan De Castro at UFC 243. He then returned to form with an early stoppage against Juan Adams at UFC 247. Looking back on his overall experience so far, he said,
“It’s been good. I’ve been able to travel to Houston, Abu Dhabi and now I’m back here in the States in Vegas. I felt like I’ve been given some time to learn. I joined the UFC after three fights and three rounds basically! It’s been a lot of learning during these last few fights, but I’m really blessed man.”
With Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski currently holding world titles and talented fighters like Justin Tafa looking break into the rankings, it’s a special time for Anzac fighters and Tafa believes his countrymen always had the ingredients necessary to flourish in MMA.
“I think more people are just putting the rugby ball down and putting on the 4oz gloves,” he said.
“We’ve always been good at fighting. And we’ve got our rugby and there’s a lot of grappling in rugby. I feel like we’ve made a smooth transition. A lot of the boys like Volkanovski they were former rugby players and now look at them. He can hold his own when it comes to the grappling side of things and he’s a world champ. Australia and New Zealand man I feel like it’s the golden age of MMA for sure,” continued Tafa.
Justin Tafa certainly appears to keep an eye on what his comrades are doing, but when it comes to watching the sport in general, he lost interest years ago.
“I just like to fight man. I used to be a fan back in the day with Nick Diaz and Mark Hunt were there. Back in those days I used to watch it a lot, but it got a bit theatrical these days. So, I just lay back and let my own knockouts do the talking,” he said.
In recent weeks, the heavyweight division as released heavyweight legends like Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos. Fighters like Tafa represent new blood, but any thoughts of challenging for the title are on the back burner until he can start consistency getting his hand raised.
“Right now, my focus is just stringing some wins together and putting on good shows. I think the crowd loves what I bring. I still bring that old era of slugfests and knockouts man I’m not here to be hugging people’s legs or anything. Once the wins come together and I make that top 15 I’ll look ahead,” said Tafa.
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