A day after claiming an unwanted piece of UFC history, Justin Tafa has made a statement with a brutal knockout win at UFC Vegas 45 on Sunday.
It took just one minute and 53 seconds for Tafa to put an end to the fight, sending American Harry Hunsucker crashing to the canvas with a destructive head kick.
It meant Tafa added another knockout win to his total tally of five from eight professional fights in the MMA.
“I didn’t get tagged once,” Tafa said of his performance.
“He was trying to put me in submissions and I was like: ‘Bro, get out of here’”.
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From losing a family member to border scrambles, Tafa went through a challenging and emotionally draining camp before Sunday’s victory.
The New Zealand-born, Aussie-based fighter hit another hurdle on Saturday, becoming the first heavyweight in the UFC’s history to miss weight.
Tafa tipped the scales at 267lbs (121kg); a pound over the heavyweight limit for a non-title fight.
“Just relieved,” Tafa responded when asked how he felt after the win.
“This camp was one of those ones where everything bad that could have happened happened. I even lost a cornerman this week. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. That pot of gold was there somewhere and we found it today.
“We lost family members, had to sneak out of states to get Visas, couldn’t fly back to my home state and train out of there because they shut the borders on me. So, I had to go to another state and we had to flea to Sydney to come here before that new variant shut us down.”
As for the weight cut, Tafa said his preparation was no different to past fights and that he had even sat in a sauna for 11 to 12 hours in a desperate attempt to shed the kilograms.
“I go through the same processes every time and everything works out good,” he said.
“This week, I water loaded like I usually do but I lost no weight at all. I knew by the time I hit Thursday. Usually I’m down four or five pounds.
“I knew it was going to be a hard cut. I was in the sauna for 11 to 12 hours just to get it but by the time I hit that last pound I was like: ‘I don’t think I could fight like this if I continue’.
“My goal was to make history, that wasn’t the way I wanted to. I was done. Everyone that was there could see how much work I put in. I was barely making it.
“It was unprofessional of me and will never happen again.”