Pre-fight Analysis

Tai Tuivasa vs. Harry Hunsucker – UFC Vegas 22 Preview

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Tai Tuivasa got a new opponent Saturday night in Harry Hunsucker. UFC Vegas 22 goes down Saturday night from the APEX and is headlined by Derek Brunson taking on the red-hot Kevin Holland. The Main Card will be on ESPN in the U.S. and provides every fighter on the card a massive opportunity to gain steam among the mainstream sports audience. Kicking off the Main Card will be the Australian fan-favorite Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa against promotional newcomer Harry Hunsucker in what promises to be a Heavyweight slugfest.

Tai Tuivasa (11-3-0)

In November of 2017, Tai Tuivasa burst onto the UFC scene with a thundering KO of Rashad Coulter. ┬áLate in the first round of his debut, the Aussie Heavyweight landed a supremely athletic flying knee that put his opponent away. The athleticism shown by Tuivasa instantly propelled him into relevance within the UFC’s Heavyweight division. He followed up his debut with another stellar KO victory over Cyril Asker and then won a grueling decision over for UFC Champion Andrei Arlovski and was on the path to stardom.

The win over Arlovski turned into Tuivasa’s first Main Event opportunity in December of 2018 in his home country against yet another former champ in Junior Dos Santos. Despite a competitive showing, the Aussie lost to JDS via a second-round KO. He would go on to lose twice more against Blagoy Ivanov and Sergei Spivac and found himself on the verge of being cut from the promotion. With his back against the wall, Tuivasa was able to pick up a big first-round KO victory over Stefan Struve on Fight Island. He had Struve up against the cage and landed a massive uppercut just before the horn sounded to end the first round.

At UFC Vegas 22 on Saturday night, Tai Tuivasa was supposed to take on Don’Tale Mayes. When Mayes fell out of the fight due to Covid related issues, Tuivasa quickly accepted this short notice fight with Harry Hunsucker. As is normally the case with the Australian, he will absolutely have the athletic advantage but Hunsucker will bring enough power to make things interesting. The stakes are very easily understood for Tai Tuivasa entering the Octagon on Saturday: win in impressive fashion and he’s right back to be a name to watch in the Heavyweight division.

Harry Hunsucker (6-3-0)

UFC Vegas 22 will present Harry Hunsucker with the biggest opportunity of his Mixed Martial Arts career. He comes into this matchup after a KO loss to Jared Vanderaa on Dana White’s Contender Series in November of 2020. After what had to be a crushing loss just 5 months ago, Hunsucker will get a second chance to put the MMA world on notice.

Prior to losing on the Contender Series Harry Hunsucker had put together an impressive 5 fight win streak, with all 5 wins coming by stoppage (2 via KO, 3 via submission). With a well rounded skill set, the UFC newcomer gives himself a very good chance to pull off an upset victory. Tai Tuivasa has shown a weakness to the ground game during his UFC run and with 4 submission wins to his name, Hunsucker has to be thinking about getting this fight to the mat early and often.

The Matchup

UFC Vegas 22 figures to kick things off with a bang with this Heavyweight matchup. Things are never as simple as they seem in this sport but this fight breaks down in pretty simple terms: If this is primarily a striking battle on the feet, Tai Tuivasa is likely to finish Hunsucker (All 3 of Hunsucker’s losses have been via KO). Should things hit the mat, Harry Hunsucker has a real shot to find a submission and win his UFC debut.

Prediction: Tai Tuivasa via 1st Rd KO

Stay tuned to @MMASucka all week for previews of the entire card, and of course all weekend long for results and post-fight coverage.

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