Australian heavyweight Tai Tuivasa is more focused than ever on making his mark in the UFC.

After he suffered back-to-back losses in 2019, pushing his current skid to three fights, some fans worried we might not see “Bam Bam” compete inside the Octagon again. But this is one fighter you should never count out.

“I’m back and I’ve done a lot of work this year,” says the 27-year-old, who will face Stefan Struve at UFC 254. “I’m coming off losses, so it had to be a different sort of fight camp. I’ve worked a lot on my mental state and now I’m feeling really good. I’m ready to get out there and do my thing.”

Hailing from some of the meanest streets in Western Sydney, he grew up running with a tough crowd. That, and the fact his dad was a boxer, meant fighting was second nature. At age 19, he looked set for a career as a rugby league player, but he’ll be the first to admit the sport wasn’t his passion.

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“I was getting sent off every other game for fighting. It never really suited me, especially at that professional level. I love fighting. I enjoy it more than footy, so I went with my heart.”

“I was going down a wrong path at one point in my life. The fact that I can do this in front of the world is a blessing.”

Tuivasa doesn’t dwell on any dark days – he prefers to look forwards rather than backwards.

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