11 years after making his organizational debut, Hawaii’s Brad Tavares will make another walk into the octagon this weekend on the undercard of UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
The 33 year old who is coming off of a decision victory in Abu Dhabi seven months ago will be presented with an opportunity to make a significant move up the divisional ladder as the 15th ranked middleweight will face of with 13th ranked Omari Akhmedov on the card’s early prelims.
“I’m not getting any younger so I’ve put streaks together in the past and this fight is a stepping stone in that right direction. I need to go out there, smash this guy and just keep winning fights until I can ultimately get my title shot,” Tavares told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
For the Waiakea graduate, Saturday will serve as a major milestone in his storied career as Tavares will become just the third Hawaii born fighter to ever make 20 appearances in the UFC.
“I honestly haven’t even, I didn’t even know that stat until you just brought it to my attention,” said Tavares. “That is pretty cool. I was just talking to Francis Ngannou yesterday and we trained together and he had asked me how many UFC fights I had and I honestly couldn’t even tell him. I looked over to Eric Nicksick and asked how many fights do I have in the UFC? He was like, 17 or 18 or so. I asked Francis when he started fighting professionally and it had only been like five years or something not too long ago. I was like, bro I’ve been in the UFC since 2010 and he was just like whoa.”
The sort list of Hawaii born fighters to make 20 appearances on the sport’s biggest stage provides elite company as Tavares will join only hall of famer BJ Penn who has fought 27 times in the UFC and former champion Max Holloway who earlier this year picked up a win in his 24th UFC bout.
“It’s pretty cool to be along side those guys, BJ a legend, Max a current legend, so it’s cool,” said Tavares. “When you put a number on it like 2010 and we’re in now 2021, I’ve been in the UFC for a third of my life. It’s crazy.”
“At the end of the day, it just goes to show my hard work and dedication to it because as much as they love or didn’t love me, if I wasn’t winning fights and being successful there’s no way that they could keep me. I got a great relationship with the UFC but at the end of the day too it boils down to my hard work, my dedication. The sacrifices that I’ve made to over these last 11 years and even before that to be right where I am today.”
Also worth noting is that Tavares is 3-0 on cards headlined by Dustin Poirier, and of course this main event on Saturday will feature the Diamond against rival Conor McGregor.
“All these little stats and I’m sure there’s so many out there. That I didn’t now. I didn’t realize he and I fought on the same card that many times. I know his last fight, him and Conor I was in that fight as well in Abu Dhabi but yeah, I didn’t realize that stat there.”
Tavares is scheduled to scrap on the UFC 264 early prelims which will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass starting at 12:00pm HST.