UFC: Justin Tafa reveals extreme effort he went to just to make Sunday’s big fight night in Sydney

As he prepares for the most important fight of his career, Australian slugger Justin Tafa reveals the extreme efforts he put in just to make the last UFC card of the year this weekend in Sydney.

Just a fortnight ago, Justin Tafa was supposed to return to Queensland and complete preparations for the most important fight of his UFC career.

“But then they said I had to quarantine for 14 days,” he says.

Which was a problem.

Especially since the Brisbane slugger was leaving for Las Vegas in nine hours.

Worse yet, Tafa had barely left her home country for Melbourne some 24 hours earlier.

“To get a visa,” he said.

“I had tried to do it in Sydney before, but I couldn’t. Ditto with Perth.

“That’s why I ended up flying to Melbourne.”

Which, again, was far from an ideal preparation for Sunday’s last UFC card of the year, where Tafa faces bulky American Harry Hunsucker in the most important fight of a fledgling career that is yet to come. full of promises.

Currently, however, the Aussie is on a two-game losing streak. Has also lost three of his last four games.

“So winning,” says Tafa, “is vital”.

Which is why, when told he couldn’t return home to Brisbane, and his gym, coaches and training partners a fortnight ago, the Brisbane puncher made the quick decision. to get to Sydney instead.

Then from there drive 90 minutes north to Newcastle and the current training base of his younger brother Junior.

The same Junior Tafa who earlier this year spent eight weeks sleeping on the gym floor while he too was locked out of Queensland while preparing for his own scheduled appearance in Dana White’s Contender series.

In June, Tafa’s younger brother flew to Sydney to act as a training partner for UFC banger Tai Tuivasa.

But then Covid blew up, borders closed and the 24-year-old ended up sleeping on a gym floor, getting a visa late and still having his fight for the Contender series delayed until 2022.

But what about big brother’s digs before they fly away?

“A friend organized an Airbnb for me,” he laughs.

Much like the little brother gave Tafa the perfect final workouts he needed.

“So I’m ready,” he said.

“Although given the Covid cases in Newcastle this week… I was probably lucky to leave when I did.”

Above all, Tafa is also determined to revise this UFC record of only one win in his first four Octagon appearances.

Figures, however, that are more than misleading given that many believe Tafa won a controversial split decision over Carlos Felipe in January, before breaking his hand in the first round of a narrow decision loss to Jared Vanderaa in May. .

As well as having fought all three rounds against Vanderaa with a left hand “fractured in 12 places”, Tafa also recently revealed how the bone of his thumb pierced the skin under his combat glove.

Yet despite the horrific injury, the 28-year-old still performed well enough to earn a US $ 50,000 Fight of the Night bonus.

Importantly, Tafa also enters the Sydney bout inspired by the recent turnaround from his training mate and regular training partner Tuivasa – who is now on a four-game winning streak by knockout after losing three. right now.

The pair even crossed paths earlier this week shortly before Tuivasa left Las Vegas, where he kayaked Augusto Sakai at UFC 269.

“I congratulated him but had to stay away,” Tafa laughs. “He really was in party mode.”

Still, Tafa points out that he took exactly what he needed from the Mount Druitt slugger, who two fights ago hit Hunsucker cold in 49 seconds.

“Because you’re looking at Tai, he was on a three-game losing streak,” he said.

“But he remained confident that better days were ahead.

“And now he’s just won his fourth game in a row. Each of them by KO too.

“So I really pulled the motivation out of that.

“Obviously my record is not as good as it should be.

“But there are currently UFC champions who have returned bad records.

“Like (lightweight champion) Charles Oliveira, he was 10-8 in his first 18 fights in the UFC.

“And they are seasoned MMA fighters.

“I came to the UFC with three fights. And they had lasted three rounds.

“So I learn as I go. “

When asked what he expects from Hunsucker, Tafa added, “I’m not going to chase the knockout.

“But if he throws recklessly like against Tai, I’ll try to put him to sleep.

“But otherwise, I’ve come the distance in my last two fights and I know he hasn’t, so I might as well use it to my advantage.

“And I think he will be more hesitant.

“Obviously he might have gotten away with that style here in the States, but we’re a different breed from Down Under. “

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