UFC heavyweights Jared Vanderaa and Justin Tafa are set to clash in the Octagon on May 22 at UFC Vegas 27. The striker vs striker heavyweight matchup has all the ingredients to be a banger as both fighters are eager to build momentum.
Ahead of the bout, former EFC fighter Jared Vanderaa sat down for a candid chat with Sportskeeda's John Hyun Ko. Vanderaa discussed his loss to Sergey Spivak, the impact of COVID-19 on his performance, UFC jitters, and much more.
Jared Vanderaa also addressed the late stoppage controversy against Sergey Spivak at UFC Fight Night 185. After getting battered by the Moldovian fighter on the feet, the bout was ended late in the second round by the referee because of a gash above Vanderaa's left eye.
"He was hitting properly, he got a few shots in the back. But, you know, s**t happens... they could've stopped it earlier because of the boring fight on my end. I'm just upset with myself. I just got really caught up in the lights that it hit me harder than I had thought," said Vanderaa.
Vanderaa's UFC debut was originally slated for UFC 256. However, Vanderaa was forced to pull out of the fight after testing positive for COVID-19 and the fight was postponed. Vanderaa claims that the postponement affected his mindset leading into the fight.
"Once COVID hit and I had that long drawn out thing, I mentally started overplaying things. It sucks, but you know, it happens. And now I have another person in front of me, Tafa. And I'm hoping the results are different. I think it's going to be a fun fight. I think Tafa is a fun dude, I like his energy," said Vanderaa.
Jared Vanderaa is anticipating a striking battle with Justin Tafa
Although Jared Vanderaa is prepared to tackle Tafa on the ground, the Team Quest pupil isn't expecting the Kiwi to shoot for a takedown.
Moreover, Jared Vanderaa is aware of Justin's kickboxing background and is expecting a stand-up war with the NTG Fight disciple. Vanderaa also mentioned that he followed Tafa's brother's kickboxing career at Glory Kickboxing.
"He is a kickboxer. His team is a well-known team. He has Mark Hunt, Tai Tuivasa and I actually followed his brother in the Glory scene. I like kickboxing, so, I know of his brother. I would be shocked if Tafa shoots a double leg. I think it's going to be more of good exchanges," said Vanderaa.
Check out Jared Vanderaa's entire interview with Sportskeeda below: