By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WITH FIVE FIGHTS under his belt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship since joining the promotion in 2016, Australian heavyweight fighter Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa said it is an opportunity that he is basking for the many lessons he has been getting in so many ways.
Brought to the country by AirAsia early this week to conduct a fight camp as part of its #DARETODREAM campaign, Sydney native Tuivasa, 26, said his UFC experience to date has been nothing but amazing and it is a platform he is using to develop himself as a fighter and best represent Australia on the global mixed martial arts (MMA) stage.
“As most people know, Australia is still young in the sport (MMA). Initially I started fighting because I enjoyed it then I had a family of my own and it kind of changed everything for me — my whole attitude in life and things. So I took a bit serious and after that I headed to the UFC,” said Mr. Tuivasa in an interview with BusinessWorld.
“I love being one of the front-runners in the UFC for Australia. I think we have so much talent and potential. And we have UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and number one featherweight contender in Alex Volkanovski. And then there is me. I’m learning at the top level. I’m learning heaps about myself and the people around me and I’m just grateful. To wake up and do something you love,” added the current number 12 heavyweight contender.
While in the UFC, Mr. Tuivasa, who counts Kiwi fighter Mark Hunt as one of his MMA inspirations, has compiled a 3-2 record, his losses coming in his last two fights against Junior Dos Santos and Blagoy Ivanov, in that order.
It is a skid that he is not putting much into and treating it as a chance to better himself.
“I’ve lost plenty of times in life. But it’s a learning curve for me. These losses are something that I’m not going to walk with my head down. These losses are against the best in the world. So it’s a learning curve. I’m just 26 and one of the youngest in the division,” Mr. Tuivasa (8-2) said.
The AirAsia brand ambassador also shared that he is bullish of the growth of MMA in Asia-Pacific and seeing it eventually catching up with the rest of the world.
“We’re still a bit off but we are coming in quietly — with guys like Whittaker, Volkanovski, me and the other fighters in different promotions here. We’re not so far behind. It’s just that the other countries have more global exposure in it but we’re coming,” he said.
Mr. Tuivasa went on to say that to further the MMA growth in this part of the world more top-level competition is maintained and that fighters should be take care of and paid well.
During his stay here, Mr. Tuivasa taught camp participants at the UFC Gym in Alabang proper strength and body conditioning exercises as well various MMA techniques.
The camp is part of AirAsia #DARETODREAM campaign, which aims to grow talent and the local sports scene while giving back to the ASEAN community.