By: King Eddie
When the $40k bonus checks were handed out after UFC On FUEL TV 5, the general belief was that undercard fighters, Brad Tavares and Tom Watson were snubbed for fight of the night.
In their three round war, Tavares and Watson threw everything including the kitchen sink at one another. In certain cases they even threw the dishwasher. All three rounds were contested at a fast pace with hard shots and a constant threat of takedowns. Though there was no finish, it was obvious that each fighter was trying their best to achieve one with every punch. I spoke with Brad Tavares, moments after his bout at UFC on FUEL TV 5, to get his take on how things shook down.
"The Bonuses sometimes lean towards the main card fighters, you know. But it just gives me something more to work for. I have to work harder to get on that main card."
Starting as a fighter on the Hawaii regional circuit, Tavares made his move to the mainland in order to elevate his game in Las Vegas. Working with the team at Xtreme Couture, he has been able to raise his strengths to a new level, as well as close the gap with some of his weaknesses. Continuing forward with his base built in Hawaii with team MMAD, Tavares improved upon every aspect of his game with his new coaches as he climbs the ladder in the UFC.
"Yeah working with Ray Sefo is a perfect fit. But not just with him, all of my coaches. My strength and conditioning coach and my Jiu-Jitsu coaches. They are all helping me to elevate my game to the next level. I'm not saying that what I had in Hawaii wasn't good, but I just have more time to perfect my game out here."
To have an opponent like Tom Watson, who is a well known and respected MMA fighter almost exclusively in England, Tavares had to impress in order for many UFC fans to recognize it as a worthy fight. Watson, who is known for his power and striking, was no easy task for Tavares but as each round unfolded, fans could see two warriors going out to end the bout. In the end, that is something that has been getting lost in MMA. But in this fight, both men were winning rounds by trying to end the fight, not trying to win the fight by winning rounds. And the respect shown after the winner was announced, really capped off a wonderful night for Tavares.
"After the fight Tom and his coaches came up to me and told me that they knew I won that fight. They said that I won the fight, and that I won every round of that fight. That I took in unanimously. And that was really a great thing for them to do because a lot of people were confused by the scoring, but it just shows you what kind of guys they are to say that to me."
Each round was really a showcase of true MMA. Though both would prefer to stand and trade, Brad scored several takedowns that changed the dimensions of the fight on several occasions. And it was Watson's ability to react to those takedowns and submission attempts that showed his diversity in a fight. Both Tavares and Watson showed something that all MMA fighters should show, the willingness to not only take the fight wherever it goes, but to still give the same effort and try to finish. After a couple submission attempts by both fighters, and countless haymakers, the crowd, as well as a majority of viewers at home, were convinced that Tavares and Watson had just earned fight of the night.
It was no secret what the intentions of each fighter was. The striking game was not only the most exciting aspect of the fight, but it was the most calculated as well. The gamplane for Tavares was to use his striking in a way that would dismantle his opponent mentally, so that in turn he could take advantage physically.
"After the first round I think I frustrated him, but he just kept coming. It kind of helped me because he was standing in front of me. Not like my last fight with Yang, who kept moving and working off of angles. Going into this fight that was part of the gameplan. Watson is the type of guy that wants to set the pace. He likes you to be at the end of his reach" Said Tavares. "I noticed that when some guys get in his face and keep the pressure on him, he gets frustrated a little bit. So Ray sefo and I, that was our plan and we went right to it. I got in there and established the jab early. I stayed right in his face and didn't let him dictate the pace of the fight, or where it was going."
Though at the time of this discussion, Brad had not yet watched the fight, he expressed that the fans in attendance, those on Twitter, as well as his fellow fighters believed that what he had just achieved was a Fight Of The Night performance. But even though the bonus check did not come, the recognition was all the Hawaiian hammer really needed. In his journey to the UFC, he made the decision to make MMA his career. And as we all know, in a career you may not always get the bonus check you deserve, but respect from the boss is nothing to sneeze at.
I would like to thank Brad Tavares for his time directly following his fight. A truly classy fighter, with a bright future in the UFC.