- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
LAS VEGAS – Tai Tuivasa wasn’t leaving the U.S. without a fight.
Away from his family for months, Tuivasa (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) wants to fight, celebrate his birthday with a few (many) beers, and get back home as soon as possible. However, in order to bring a check back home, he needed a fight. When his opponent, Don’Tale Mayes, was pulled from UFC on ESPN 21 on Tuesday, promotional newcomer Harry Hunsucker stepped up.
“It was funny,” Tuivasa told MMA Junkie at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “We were talking, me and my team this morning, I was like, ‘F*ck, I was so close to going out and getting pissed (drunk).’ I’ve changed my ways. I’m a good boy now, but I was close. I was like, ‘F*ck this, man.’ (I) trained all this time for nothing. Props to the fella that took it (Hunsucker) and I’m sure we can share a beer after, after punching each others’ heads in.”
Tuivasa’s son means the world to him. If Hunsucker (7-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) hadn’t stepped up, he may have been postponed to a future card. That would’ve been an unwanted, extended stay in America.
“I haven’t seen my son for three months, so I wasn’t leaving here without a fight, either in the cage or out back somewhere,” Tuivasa said. “… I miss my son. I miss my son. It’s probably the longest I’ve been away from him, since he’s gotten older. I think the older they get, you kind of miss them more or something like that.”
If he wins Saturday, the celebration will be on. Tuivasa is already known as a fighter who enjoys a frosty beverage or two post-fight, but a win in Las Vegas during the week of his birthday? That’s a whole other level.
“I punch people’s heads in and I drink piss,” Tuivasa said. “I don’t want to be (anything else). I’m fine with that. I’m sweet.”
UFC on ESPN 21 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2.