Tai Tuivasa may it crystal clear that he wants to throw down with Justin Willis next, but the rising heavyweight claims he’s got better things to do, following UFC Adelaide.
Willis took on Mark Hunt at Saturday’s event and worked his way to a decision win over the legendary slugger. Tuivasa, meanwhile, faced former champ Junior dos Santos in the card’s co-headliner, and was stopped in round two.
Well, at the weigh-ins on Friday, Willis and Hunt had an intense face-off, before having some sort of altercation backstage. This is almost certainly why Tuivasa fired off his call out to Willis, following his bout. Tuivassa is a friend and teammate of Hunt’s.
But, when Willis was asked to respond to the Australian fighter’s callout, here is some of what he had to say (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“He’s concussed,” Willis said (h/t Submission Radio). “I mean, the guy just lost in his home country — how embarrassing. It’s one of those things where you’re the main event, you come in here and get knocked out and you call out a guy who beat up your daddy. You’re gonna have to win a fight or two and then we can talk. I’m off to greener and brighter pastures. Top five. I’m after a belt. And he’s not that guy right now.”
“I mean, c’mon man, he’s protecting his daddy,” Willis said of Tuivasa. “What do you expect him to do? This is the fight game, not the light game. I’m not in there to make friends. I’m here to dominate these guys, by any means necessary. I’m here to win. I don’t care if it’s a decision, I don’t care if it’s a knockout, split decision. I don’t give a flying you know what.”
There you have it. Now, when you consider that Willis has won all four of his bouts now in the UFC, and is riding an 8 fight winning streak, you can understand why he’s angling for a fight with a higher ranked opponent next. Heading into UFC Adelaide, Willis was ranked #15 and Tuivasa was #11.
But, due to the backstory here with Hunt, don’t be too surprised if the UFC tables this fight to Willis. Especially if both men are ready to fight again next February when the UFC returns to Australia for UFC 234.
All this aside, it was a big win for Willis on Saturday night, and it’s going to be interesting to see whether he can move into title contention in 2019.