Tai Tuivasa is down but not out after a tough loss to Alexander Volkov on his home turf of Sydney, Australia.
“Bam Bam” came to brawl in the battle of the heavyweights at UFC 293, and did pretty well considering the serious reach advantage his Russian opponent had. But it was game over for the popular Australian after Volkov tripped Tuivasa late in the second round, taking him to the mat where he secured mount position. He used that to set up a slick Ezekiel choke, tapping Tai with 23 seconds left on the clock (watch the finish here).
A glum looking Tuivasa took to Instagram later in the day to share his thoughts on the defeat.
“Walked out to SCAR [by musician Missy Higgins], I was the one who ended up with the scar,” he wrote. “Live to fight another day. ALL LOVE TO MY FANS! SORRY AUSTRALIA I WENT OUT TRIED MY BEST FELL SHORT LOVE YAHS.”
“Great work Alexander Volkov, was a pleasure,” he added.
The loss to Volkov is Tuivasa’s third in a row following knockout losses to Sergei Pavlovich and Ciryl Gane. Prior to that, “Bam Bam” was on an impressive five fight win streak, all by knockout. He was right on the edge of a heavyweight title shot, but all that fell apart after the Gane loss. Now Tai will probably trade ranking slots with Volkov, dropping down to No. 7 in the division.
Perhaps it’s time for the UFC to soften up the competition for Tuivasa so he can show up, knock someone out, and set off a string of shoe-drinking celebrations he popularized in the sport. That’s what the fans love, and that’s what the fans want to see. We know there are no easy fights in the UFC, but this certainly wasn’t a kind stylistic match-up for the hometown hero.
“Bam Bam” is just 30 years of age and could develop to regain a position in the top five. But for now? Give the man a reset. Let him get his confidence again. Allow him time to grow. And set up the conditions so we can drink a stanky beer out of a smelly shoe, please and thank you.