UFC Adelaide headliners Junior dos Santos and Tai Tuivasa received a “welcome ceremony” from a local Aboriginal clan in the days leading up to the Fight Night event in Australia. But a photo op resulted in an odd hug between the heavyweight combatants.
Dos Santos says he felt “a good energy” after the ceremony earlier this week, something he “never felt before in his life.” It was dos Santos’ first time being face to face with his upcoming opponent, and it went different than he expected.
”I expected a tense atmosphere because we were going to fight, we had that exchange online, but the first contact we had was really cool,” dos Santos told MMA Fighting. “I was happy, to be honest with you, because I don’t like that tense atmosphere. I have nothing against him or his team, or anyone I fight. My goal is to get there and take care of business, put on a good fight and a good performance, and win. That’s what matters to me.”
After the ceremony, locals handed the former UFC heavyweight champion a baby kangaroo.
That’s when things got weird.
“This photographer (the UFC) took there, I don’t know when they found him,” dos Santos said. “I guess he doesn’t have much experience with the fight business because he asked me to hold the baby kangaroo and then asked Tai Tuivasa to hug me [laughs]. I was like, what the f*ck is this? [laughs] He wanted to take a family photo.
”To make it worse, I look like a mom holding a baby [laughs]. I didn’t see that coming, but everyone had a good laugh about it. That helped the tense atmosphere go away. The photographer helped break the ice a little bit [laughs].”
On the following day, dos Santos and Tuivasa faced off for the first time after the open workouts. They both tried to look serious and help promote the card, but ended up laughing again.
“(Tuivasa) said he couldn’t stop remembering the baby kangaroo,” dos Santos said, laughing. “We were facing off, trying to look mean. The staredown is important, that’s when you feel your opponent, looking him in the eyes, it gets tense, but then he said he could only think about the baby kangaroo and I laughed.”
The verbal back and forth online went away and both fighters are in a friendly relationship during fight week, but that will definitely end when the cage closes.
“Cigano” believes the five-round contest will end with a knockout.
“I foresee a great fight, to excite the crowd,” dos Santos said. “We’re both strikers, two heavyweight who love to stand and bang, so it will be a great show for those watching. I had a great camp at ATT and I feel prepared and motivated. I’m in his home country, in enemy territory, and that pumps me up to do my best. I want to start off strong in the first round to find the perfect path and knock him out in the second or third round.”