KO king Tuivasa predicts UFC ‘takeover’

Murray Wenzel |

Tai Tuivasa celebrated his fifth straight KO win with a customary ‘shoey’ at UFC 271 in Houston.
Tai Tuivasa celebrated his fifth straight KO win with a customary ‘shoey’ at UFC 271 in Houston.

Tai Tuivasa say he’ll one day take over the UFC’s heavyweight division, just don’t ask him to tell you who from.

The Sydney favourite produced the moment of UFC 271 in Houston on Sunday (AEST), stunning No.3 ranked hometown favourite Derrick Lewis with an elbow that floored him.

The jarring second-round stoppage was his fifth straight KO win, quickly followed by his trademark ‘shoey’ celebration sitting atop the cage.

Pundits predicted whoever won the fight would earn a title shot, despite Tuivasa entering the fight ranked 11th in his division.

The manner of his win though, after Lewis had controlled the first one-and-a-half rounds, stirred the crowd into a frenzy to only strengthen his case.

“Come to Houston, I got a few boos at the start, but turned them into cheers,” he said.

“He’s (Lewis) had his time and I think this is the passing of the torch.

“If I keep up doing what I’m doing … I will one day take over.

“I don’t mind being the guy who drinks piss out of shoes and this and that … but at the end of the day, I’m knocking the best in the world out.”

Tuivasa’s next fight isn’t clear cut though, with champion Francis Ngannou’s UFC contract to expire in December and the French star reluctant to re-sign.

A potential Ngannou match-up with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been speculated, while the champion has beaten contenders Ciryl Gane and Stipe Miocic in his last two outings.

“I don’t even know the ****’s in the top five,” Tuivasa summed up.

“I don’t even watch fighting, bro.”

Meanwhile fellow Sydney talent Robert Whittaker says there’s “no ceiling” as he grapples with a tight loss in his rematch with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

The Australian thought he’d done enough to end the New Zealander’s hold on the division but lost a line-ball, unanimous points decision in the main event in Houston.

He was beaten comfortably by Adesanya to relinquish the title in 2019, meaning a third rematch is unlikely to come anytime soon.

His performance on Sunday showed he remained the division’s clear No.2 though, with a match-up against another two-time Adesanya victim Marvin Vettori an option.

“I came out on top, feel like I’m evolving and every fight you can see a better version,” the 31-year-old said.

“It excites me to see that there is no ceiling; I’m going to keep getting better.

“I’m just entering the prime of my career and have every avenue to run down.”