(This post originally appeared on MMAFrenzy.)
Adesanya and Tavares are going to square off in the main event of the TUF 27 Finale, which will take place on Friday in Las Vegas. “The Last Stylebender” has been moved into the high stakes, high profile opportunity, after winning his first two UFC fights. Tavares, on the other hand, has been fighting in the UFC since 2010, and this will mark the first time the middleweight contender has been in a headliner.
Well, recently Tavares weighed in on the high profile opportunity, and the fact he’s facing Adesanya. Here is some of what the rugged fighter had to say (quote via UFC.com):
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m super-grateful to have this opportunity and be headlining,” said Tavares. “I made my UFC debut in the summer of 2010 right there at The Pearl on The Ultimate Fighter Finale, so it’s coming around and coming back. Here I am going from one of the contestants on the show to being the headliner of the card, so that is pretty cool, but I don’t like to buy into it too much.
“…I felt that he doesn’t deserve the fight, but a lot of it is because I wanted another fight. I was eyeing a bigger name, somebody who would put me one step closer to a title shot. (Michael) Bisping was the man I wanted, he’s retired now, so props to him, so Adesanya was next in line and I’m not here to pick and choose my fights.”
When you consider that Adesanya isn’t ranked in the top 15 at 185, and that he’s only fought in the UFC twice, you can understand why some fighters might not agree with the main event booking. Further, Adesanya hasn’t defeated a top 15 ranked middleweight yet.
But, there’s no doubt that there’s a fair amount of hype tied to Adesanya, due to his style, his impressive kickboxing record, and his abilities on the mic. As a result, it’s pretty clear the UFC is fast tracking the rising star.
Can Tavares derail the hype train on Friday? It’s possible. The last man to defeat Tavares was current champ, Robert Whittaker, and that was in 2015.