Tai Tuivasa ensured the fans had a night to remember before the UFC 264 clash between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier as he delivered a stunning knockout, then celebrated with his trademark toast to the fans.
Australian knockout artist Tuivasa faced fellow heavyweight contender Greg Hardy on the main card of UFC 264 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
And the fun-loving heavyweight had the crowd grinning from the moment his walkout music hit the speakers in the T-Mobile Arena.
That’s because, unlike the usual fighter choices of rap, R&B or heavy metal, Tuivasa opted to dance his way to the octagon to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” as the crowd sang along and danced in the stands as he made his way to the cage.
Once he stepped through the cage door and prepared for battle, the Aussie faced a formidable foe.
Former NFL player Hardy had been marked out as a potential contender of the future, but Tuivasa had no respect for the American’s athletic credentials as he immediately set about dismantling his opponent with leg kicks and heavy punches.
But, just as Tuivasa seemed to be settling into his work, Hardy clipped the Australian with a solid right hand that had Tuivasa on wobbly legs.
Spying his moment to move in and score a first-round finish, Hardy stepped into range, looking to land a knockout blow.
But, with the crowd expecting Hardy to close the show, Tuivasa exploded and connected with a huge left hand that sent Hardy crashing to the canvas.
It was a stunning knockout, but Tuivasa was far from finished entertaining the crowd.
After the knockout, Tuivasa climbed the cage and sat atop the fence, where he was passed a can of beer, which he proceeded to pour into a training shoe before downing it to huge cheers from the 20,000-strong crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena.
Tuivasa said after his victory that Hardy’s decision to stand and bang with him was a bad choice.
“Ah man, he wanted to bang with me,” he told Joe Rogan after his win.
“I’m not the right guy to bang with. Pick another bloke!”
And he elaborated further backstage as he talked through his knockout finish.
“I’m 28 years old and that’s my ninth fight in the UFC,” he said.
“I think I’ve got another 10 or 12 years in me. I think in the next year and a bit I want to try and have a run for the gold. I’m in this to feed my family, but I’m only 28. Who knows?
“I wanted to hit him. After I saw him afterwards, he had a few bumps and bruises. He deserved them.
I knew I could take care of Greg Hardy. He got what he deserved.
It’s about maturity. He hit me and I felt a bit wobbled. The old me would have put my head down and thrown the fists. I took a couple of steps back and gathered myself.”