Aussie Tai Tuivasa who fights this weekend against Greg Hardy at UFC 264. Photo:Tai Tuivasa/Facebook.

Tai Tuivasa returns to the octagon this weekend at UFC 264, where he will be representing the First Nation Australians during NAIDOC Week.

Australia’s Tai Tuivasa returns to the octagon this weekend to take on American heavyweight Greg Hardy at UFC 264.

Sharing his thoughts on how he see this weekend’s fight turning out, Tuivasa is excited to go out there and throw some leather.

“He’s big and strong, I’m fat and strong, it’s all good,” he said.

“I feel good, I’m fit, I’ve been prepping, I’ve been training down at Rob’s (Robert Whittaker) gym, twice a week doing some wrestling.

“I’ve just crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s and ready to bang on with this fella.

“I’m coming forward. Everyone has seen me fight before. I can punch on for 15 minutes and this time I am ready to punch on for 25 minutes.”

With the United States starting to open up again in a post-pandemic world, Tuivasa plans to do his camps at the American Kickboxing Academy in California in the future. It’s a renowned institution, where the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez trained and honed their skills in the past.

“That’s the plan,” Tuivasa confirmed.

“I’ve decided that I’m not going to do my camps not in Australia anymore, there is nothing really there for me to reach that next level.”

Looking ahead, Tuivasa is aiming to make quick work of Hardy and make his way back into the top 15 in the UFC heavyweight rankings.

“I want to put Greg away in good style and then I want to start aiming at that top 15 again and start having a run back up there,” Tuivasa said.

“I am not in a rush. I feel like I have a lot of years left in me, especially in fighting.

“Keep trying to get more money, keep trying to feed my family. That’s why I do this.”

Tuivasa is currently 11-3 (5-3 in UFC) and is on a two-fight win streak, finishing both fights by knock out in the first round.

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More than just a fight

This weekend’s card holds a particular significance with the return of Connor McGregor, and is arguably the biggest card of the year. For Tuivasa, however, this week is important for a different reason..

Being NAIDOC week, it is fitting that Tuivasa gets to fight and represent the First Nation Australians on the global stage. He is from the Wiradjuri nation in central New South Wales, with his mother’s side being Indigenous Australian.

Tuivasa has always ensured to showcase his heritage, always walking to the octagon with the Indigenous flag draped over his shoulders.

Back in December 2018 when Tuivasa was given the opportunity to headline his first UFC card at UFC Fight Night 142: Dos Santos Vs. Tuivasa in Adelaide, he spent the week embracing his culture.

The fight week began with a welcome to country ceremony which involved both Tuivasa and his opponent Junior Dos Santos who was very respectful of embracing Tuivasa’s culture.

“I think it’s awesome to do that… showing the world the culture we have here in Australia. It was really touching for me,” said Tuivasa in response to the ceremony.

Tuivasa continued to represent First Nation Australians with an unforgettable walk-out when it came to fight night, showcasing his culture to the entire world.

Ahead of this weekend’s fight, Tuivasa attended media day wearing a t-shirt with the Indigenous flag to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

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