"I hope he wants to stand and bang" - Justin Tafa is eager to exhibit his striking skills against Jared Vanderaa at UFC Vegas 27 [Exclusive]

Justin Tafa (left) and Jared Vanderaa (right) [Image Courtesy: @jaredvanderaa on Instagram]
Justin Tafa (left) and Jared Vanderaa (right) [Image Courtesy: @jaredvanderaa on Instagram]

UFC heavyweight Justin Tafa is only too ready to fight at UFC Vegas 27 on May 22, 2021. Tafa will face Jared Vanderaa in the main card of the event.

In an exclusive interview with John Hyon Ko for Sportskeeda, Justin Tafa seemed eager to trade blows with Vanderaa in the center of the octagon. Highlighting the differences between their striking approaches, Tafa said:

"He's not standing and banging to finish, you know? That's the difference. When I stand and bang, I'm standing to try and sleep you, you know? I hope he wants to stand and bang, I hope he keeps that same energy."

Speaking further about the difference in their professional mixed martial arts experience, Justin Tafa said:

"You know he's had like a few fights, man. I think he's had like 20-something pro fights. This is my seventh pro fight, and, yeah I hope he wants to stand and bang. I want to put on another good show like the last fight."

The last fight Justin Tafa is referring to is his bout against Carlos Felipe at UFC on ABC 1, which featured Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar as the main event. While the main event was a striking clinic displayed by Max Holloway, many viewers felt that it didn't deserve the 'Fight of the Night' bonus. 'Performance of the Night', without a doubt, but fans felt Justin Tafa vs. Carlos Felipe earned FOTN honors.

Speaking about the fight, which saw heavy blows traded between the two big men, Justin Tafa said:

"Performance wise, I couldn't be more happy with myself, man. Like, I answered a lot of questions that people thought they could take advantage of, which is like after the first round he won't be that good, or his grappling is not that good, or whatever. I showed that, like, I know Carlos was saying that he was going to make me quit in the later rounds or I'll tire out. I was the one mustring the ship there. I ran the show that night and showed that I'm not just a striker, you know? Cage control, shot for a couple of takedowns, stuffed a couple of takedowns, it had it all. And went out in round three and I was still throwing to knock him out in the last round as I was in the first round. I was happy with my performance, just the result of it was a bit, you know?"

Asking if he was surprised by Carlos Felipe's toughness, Justin Tafa replied:

"Yeah man. Some of those liver kicks I was kicking him with, I was like, "damn, I don't know how he's taking this." I know I kick hard, so big ups to him."

Justin Tafa talks about his experience of growing up in the UFC

Tafa is 26 years old and signed to the UFC with a 3-0 pro-MMA record. He is currently 1-2 in the promotion, with the upcoming fight against Jared Vanderaa being his seventh pro fight. Speaking about having the opportunity to possibly grow up in the UFC as an athlete and what he has learned since joining the promotion in 2019, Justin Tafa said:

"For me it's everything, you know? When it comes to publicity, personal image, and how I conduct myself, I've learned a lot, you know? I've had to learn quick. And then development wise, MMA, I felt like I've improved vastly, you know? I jumped into the scene off of only fighting three fights, and then shot into two pay-per-views. I feel like I've been holding my own, you know? I haven't shown that I don't belong here. I've been putting on the shows, the fans they've warmed to me, and that's why people want to watch me fight. I've been backing my talking and just being me."

Justin Tafa also talked about the strange experience of fighting at odd hours on Fight Island, among other things.

You can watch the whole interview below:

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Edited by Avinash Tewari
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