World-ranked Australian UFC heavyweight Tai Tuivsaa is giving himself a painful daily reminder of his last-start defeat as he prepares to return to the octagon.
The 26-year-old Sydneysider takes on Bulgaria’s Blagoy Ivanov, who is ranked two places below him at 13th, at UFC 238 In Chicago on June 8.
It will be one year to the weekend since he fought at the same venue – the United Center – and outpointed former world champion Andrei Arlovski for his most significant win.
Tuivasa’s blossoming career hit it’s first roadblock in his next bout and most recent fight last December at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
He was stopped in two rounds by Brazil’s former world champion Junior dos Santos, for his first loss in four UFC and nine MMA bouts.
“I watch it every night before bed, it burns my soul,” Tuivasa told AAP.
Asked if he will stop watching it if he beats Ivanov, Tuivasa said: “Nope, not till I give it back to him (dos Santos), I’d love to (have a rematch).”
Tuivasa had no trouble identifying what cost him against dos Santos.
“i got caught, I learnt a lot about not rushing,” Tuivasa said.
“I shouldn’t rush. I get a bit blood hungry. That’s young and dumb.
“He’s been around forever and he saw that, so he took advantage.”
Tuivasa is renowned for being a stand-up fighter, but revealed he was working hard on his ground game.
“I’ve been wrestling non-stop. That doesn’t mean I’m going to come out and double leg someone, but I’ve been working on it and got my body in shape,” he said.
“I think if you’re fit enough to wrestle, I think you’re fit enough to do anything.
“I think I’m fitter than ever and I’ve worked on stuff and I’m excited to show the world.
“I feel like I’m getting better at the sport. I’m finding more of a passion for the sport.”
The 32-year-old Ivanov, who has a sambo and judo background, has a 17-2 MMA record and is 1-1 in the UFC, with his loss coming on points to dos Santos in the Brazilian’s last fight before beating Tuivasa.
Australian Associated Press