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Fight fans saw some pretty familiar names on the preliminary card of UFC Vegas 71.
Even the most casual fans can deduce the fact that heavyweight Mohammed “The Motor” Usman is related to Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. (Mohammed is the younger brother of the longtime welterweight champion.)
But it might take a more seasoned diehard to realize Junior “The Juggernaut” Tafa is the younger brother of UFC veteran Justin “Bad Man” Tafa.
Battle of the Not-So-Little Brothers
While the older siblings have familiarized themselves with UFC fight fans, the younger siblings are looking to make a name for themselves Saturday night. This heavyweight clash of not-so-little brothers could very well be the most explosive fight of the night.
“I’m going for his head,” Tafa said in a fight week tweet. “If I don’t knock him out, it doesn’t count. If it goes to a decision, it doesn’t count.”
Usman and Tafa are two of the division’s most promising stars, and both are in the early phases of their UFC careers.
Keep “The Motor” Running
Usman, who boasts an 8-2 record, is making his second official UFC appearance after knocking out Zac Pauga Aug. 2022 to win The Ultimate Fighter Season 30. Usman also battled Eduardo Perez and Mitchell Sipe to unanimous decision victories in TUF exhibition bouts.
Before making the move to the UFC, Usman lost to Brandon Sayles by rear-naked choke in his only Professional Fighters League appearance. Usman was a perfect 4-0 in his time with Titan FC from 2019 to 2020. His only other loss—a unanimous decision setback—came to Don’Tale “Lord Kong” Mayes at Victory Fighting Championship 60 in 2018.
“The Juggernaut” has Arrived
Tafa, who is a perfect 4-0 with four knockouts since transitioning to MMA following a successful Glory Kickboxing career, will be making his UFC debut.
Tafa, who once hilariously claimed his right hand was “made of sleeping pills,” is also a close friend and training partner of UFC legend Mark Hunt, who recruited Tafa to his entourage after seeing the youngster at a regional fight show.
Since suffering his second straight kickboxing loss in 2019, Tafa has won seven consecutive fights across kickboxing, muay thai and MMA. After competing tonight, Tafa told media that he plans to move to light heavyweight in his next UFC fight.
Usman Outperforms Tafa
Unanimous for Mohammed Usman!
He takes the decision over Junior Tafa here on the #UFCVegas71 prelims pic.twitter.com/DeMbUggqkd
— UFC (@ufc) April 22, 2023
Through fifteen minutes, it would be Usman who would get his hands raised in victory in their heavyweight encounter. The unanimous decision victory (29-28, 3x) pushes Usman to 9-2 professionally, notching two straight UFC victories while Tafa fails to find success in his debut to the Octagon.