Interview by Bryan Levick

Now that he has experienced losing for the first time in his professional career Brad Tavares is more focused than ever and looking to insure that the feelings that are associated with losing is not something he becomes accustomed to. At just 24 years old Tavares still has a way to go before he truly hits his physical peak. The Kaiula, Hawaii native was a contestant on season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter and was one win away from fighting on the season finale. Although he would lose to the show’s eventual winner Court McGee, Tavares had shown the UFC that he had what it took to make some noise in the UFC.

Tavares is looking to bounce back from the loss to Aaron Simpson and wants to make an example of Dongi Yang this Tuesday night at UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier. It will not be an easy task as Yang himself is coming off of a loss and does not want to run his UFC record to 1-3. Tavares has found a home at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and knows that if he puts in the necessary work he has the talent to have a long, successful career. First he needs to get back in the win column and he is very confident that the loss will not linger.

“It was a lot easier to deal with the loss because Aaron is a good fighter and a really good guy,” said Tavares. “I got up and got right back in the gym and started training again. I know what I needed to fix from that fight and I also knew that you are bound to lose in this sport. It’s difficult to go throughout your whole career undefeated. You’re always going to come across a fighter that’s better than you in some aspect of the sport. You can’t just be a good striker, a good wrestler or have good jiu-jitsu. You have to be able to put it all together and be well rounded. I know I’ll lose a few more times, I don’t want to and I’ll work my butt off, but it’s going to happen. When it does I’ll make the necessary adjustments and get right back on the horse.”

By surrounding himself with such a high level group of fighters at Xtreme Couture, Tavares has insured that the mistakes he has made will be worked on again and again until he stops repeating them. That’s just one of the benefits of training with such a great team. Another is the fact that they will push you harder and harder day in and day out to help you realize your full potential.

“Training at Xtreme Couture has been a great experience,” Tavares told Five Ounces of Pain. “I train with guys like Jay Hieron, Martin Kampmann, Evan Dunham, Vinny Magalhaes and John Alessio every day. That’s a lot of talent to help keep me prepared and on my toes. I have been taught that when you work hard and put the time in good things happen.”

Tavares will take on the South Korean Yang this Tuesday night in Virginia. With both men coming off losses the fight could be very exciting or very cautious. Each fighter has only seen two of their fights go to the judge’s scorecards so fans will have a good chance at seeing one of them get finished.

“I don’t know too much about him other than his record and what I’ve seen in his UFC fights,” admitted Tavares. “He’s a very tough guy who likes to go for the finish just as much as I do. I know he has a bunch of wins by TKO or knockout so hopefully he will look to keep the fight standing. I think he has a good Judo background, but he likes to brawl. It should be a really fun fight.”

Being a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter can be extremely difficult both physically and mentally. Fighters are confined to a house with no contact with their family, no newspapers, television or contact with the outside world. Some fighters can’t handle the pressure, some use the time to grow as a fighter and then there are fighters who not only thrive in that type of situation, but actually enjoy it. Having a UFC Hall of Famer as your coach is one perk that you may never have again in your career. Tavares was pretty open about his time on the show and his relationship with coach Liddell.

“The best part about being on The Ultimate Fighter was just being able to train for six weeks straight,” Tavares offered. “We trained practically all day every day. Getting to know Chuck Liddell and be around one of the great legends of the UFC was a great experience. Overall I would say it was a good experience for me. I actually enjoyed it. It’s the type of situation where you make the best of it and you might as well get the most out of it. I would definitely do it again, it’s not hard being away from home, but you are responsibility free and everything is 100% paid for. All you have to worry about is being ready to train and then fight.”

“I really liked Chuck Liddell. He is a very approachable guy and he allowed me to pick his brain about fighting and training as well as being in the UFC. He was so helpful and to this day if I call him he answers the phone. It’s not like he pretends he doesn’t know me, I can call him just as a friend and ask him for his advice. If he’s in Vegas I will call him and see what he’s up to, he’s always made me feel really comfortable around him and I’ve never been ashamed to ask him anything. It’s something that I would have never had if I wasn’t on the show.”

Tavares has handled himself in and out of the cage as a complete professional. He realizes that he has a responsibility as a UFC fighter to carry himself a certain way and that his fans will want to get his attention when he sees them. He enjoys the fact that people actually want to talk to him and he relishes the opportunity he has to help teach people that fighters aren’t animals locked inside of a cage looking for blood.

“Now that the UFC and MMA have become more mainstream and we are on television all the time there are so many more eyes on us,” Tavares said. “Some people still think that we are barbarians and that all we want to do is beat each other up. It’s great to hear stories about fighters and how they are nice guys and just normal every day human beings. Most fighters I know don’t shy away from their fans, they want to sign autographs and take pictures. It trips me out that people want my autograph or that they want to take a picture with me. I find it pretty cool that someone wants me to sign a piece of paper for them.”

As much as Tavares loves competing he loves watching the sport just as much if not more. He has a group of fighters that he really enjoys watching and it’s no surprise who he has at the top of the list.

“One of my favorites would be Jose Aldo, I really enjoy watching him fight,” Tavares said excitedly. “The guy I really idolized growing up and I still enjoy watching compete is Wanderlei Silva. I watch that guy fight and he’s one of the reason I became a fighter. He is also one of the coolest guys in the world. I have met him and for someone who is so vicious in the ring I was really thrown for a loop by his personality. He is such a nice guy and although he is such a huge star he makes sure to make time for every single fan. I like watching Anthony Pettis, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and BJ Penn. I hope he comes back he is one of the most talented fighters to ever compete. Of course there are the Diaz brothers, those guys always bring it.”

As he matures both physically and mentally Tavares will present more and more problems for his opponents. For now he focuses on Yang and their fight on Tuesday night. Based on our conversation this is a fight everyone should be looking forward to.

“The fans can expect me to put on a fun fight,” said a very confident Tavares. “I will definitely be looking for the finish no matter where it may come. It can be on the feet or if I have to take him down and submit him, I will be looking to finish the fight. I will be pushing the pace and see how hard he’s been training because I know what I have been doing in the gym and I know I will be ready for anything.”