Three days before the biggest test of his career, 25-year old Tai Tuivasa has his tongue firmly in cheek. Arriving 40 minutes late to the UFC Fight Night 142 media day — an oversight he immediately acknowledges and apologizes for — he is negotiating with his Ultimate Fighting Championship handlers, insisting that he give his Sherdog.com interview outside of the designated media space. He’s told that “there’s no security,” which makes it a no-go zone, and scoffs at the proposition. “I don’t need security,” he insists with a chuckle, genuinely entertained by the suggestion that he, the promotion’s 11th-ranked heavyweight, needs protecting, before eventually agreeing to talk to me within their line of sight.
Though his rebellions seem motivated more by his boundary-pushing sense of humor than genuine disaffection, it’s not hard to see where Tuivasa is coming from. Prizefighting represents an infinitely less hazardous road than the one he was traveling on as a young man. The idea that he would be less safe in the lobby of the Hilton than the unforgiving suburbs in Western Sydney where he grew up is, in a word, laughable.
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