In just two short day's time, the UFC will be traveling back to Japan for it's eighth FUEL TV card. The event, featuring several great match-ups, has flown under the radar, due to being overshadowed by it's predecessor, UFC 157, which featured the debut of women's MMA in the organization.
Among these great match-ups is Riki Fukuda vs Brad Tavares in a middleweight clash that Tavares hopes will launch him onto the bigger cards, should he win. I recently spoke with Brad, and got his thoughts on a variety of topics.
Not having the homefield advantage
My last fight was very similar. I went to England and fought Tom Watson. This time around, I'm not worried about it too much. I think the Japanese fans won't actually boo me. I've never seen them boo anything. They're very respectful and controlled. I'm not saying the English fans aren't respectful. They were very nice to me when I was there. I think it's going to be really good vibes in Japan. I'm happy to be able to fight in a place I've always been interested in visiting.
Prior to working with Ray, I had what I had, skillwise, and it was working for me to a point, but since I've been working with Ray, it's made all the difference. He's been able to pinpoint my weaknesses and helped me to work them out and improve my skillset. He's added some good combinations to my arsenal, and helped change my style to something that works more to my natural abilities. I guess we've built off my own style and evolved it to a better one. He's made a huge, positive difference in my overall game and in my career.
My last camp, I was there at Extreme, primarily. The only thing I did outside of there was my conditioning, at a different gym. This time around, we've changed up the schedule. I'm hitting mitts with Ray at Extreme Couture, my jiu jitsu is at Robert Drysdale's and my sparring is at Syndicate MMA. There's a lot of guys at Syndicate now. and my main sparring partners are there, so I spend a lot of time there.
Riki's been in the sport for a long while. I used to see him fight in Hawaii, back in the day. He's a tough, all around kind of guy. He's got a good chin and he's very well rounded. I think that his gameplan is going to be to clinch me and take the fight down to the mat. I'm going to be more than ready for that, and I intend to stop his shots. If he decides to keep it a striking battle, that's all the better for me. I believe I'm better than he is on the feet, so that's where I'd like to keep it. It's MMA though, and I train hard in every aspect, so I'll be ready wherever this fight ends up.
Unexciting fights and UFC cuts
You know, I've been in one of those type fights before with Aaron Simpson. I wanted to exchange a little more, and kind of make it more of an exciting fight, but it ended up being the most boring fight I've ever been in. I don't want to take anything away from Aaron Simpson, either. He's a very tough guy, and that was his gameplan. He executed it very well.
With everything going on with these cuts, I hope Riki says, 'Forget it. I want to put on an exciting show', especially for this card. The Japanese fans really love seeing two guys go out there and just put it all on the line, and just make it a great fight. I hope that's the type of fight that it is.
If he wants to wall and stall or lay and pray, I'm going to work my hardest to stop that, and keep it on the feet. I've seen in his past fights, where that didn't work for him, and it looks like he said, 'You know what, I'm just gonna bang it out', so that's what I'm hoping for here. I want to excite the fans, because once they see you fight well, they're your fans forever.
Getting onto bigger cards
I'm hoping that a win over Fukuda will finally get me onto the bigger cards. I don't want to look past him, but I'd like to get off the smaller Fuel cards and get onto the big cards. I'd like to get on an FX, a FOX or even a PPV card. I believe I can do well against any of the fighters in the 185 pound division. I think I can beat any one of them on any given day.
You can follow Brad via his Twitter account, @BradTavares