This week it was announced that up-and-coming phenom Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya’s next opponent will be the tried and tested Hawaiian Brad Tavares.
The two are set to clash in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale that takes place in Las Vegas on July 6. This booking drew plenty of attention. Has Adesanya been around been around long enough to headline such a card? Will he draw enough viewers? The UFC clearly wants to elevate their talented fighter and turn him into a star.
However, my question for today is: what about Brad Tavares?
A staple in the UFC now for eight years, Tavares has spent the majority of his professional career at the highest level of the sport. He’ll now find himself in a main event slot. With a third-round TKO win over Krzysztof Jotko last month, Tavares is certainly on the rise, but with his opponent being pushed so heavily, he seems to be flying under the radar.
One could say that Tavares doesn’t get attention due to the fact that he hasn’t faced many big names, however, with two of his four losses coming to current champion Robert Whittaker and contender Yoel Romero, Tavares’ record is certainly not one to be sniffed at. At the age of 30, Tavares looks to be on his way to hitting his prime; yet no one is talking about it.
His four-fight winning streak has seen him shoot all the way up to #10 in the UFC’s middleweight division and this fight could be just the stepping stone he needs to reach the next level. By no means will Tavares walk straight through Adesanya, however, the moment these men step in the cage we will probably see that a wealth of experience and knowledge at the highest level of mixed martial arts is far more useful than a few shiny promos. Brad Tavares called out Michael Bisping after his last fight and if successful this July, that may not be as ridiculous as it seemed at the time. Tavares has always had the skills, now he just needs the push.
Although not as flashy as his fan-favorite competitor, Brad Tavares is a grinder and will not give up until that last bell sounds. This is what is going to prove to be quite the issue for Israel Adesanya. With strong wrestling, Tavares could very well be the man to expose the holes in the New Zealand resident’s game.
Adesanya’s last bout against Martin Vettori showed us that his grappling needs improvement but with Tavares’ place in the rankings in the UFC middleweight division, this is a much bigger step up in competition for “The Last Stylebender.” Tavares’ striking has improved consistently over the years and his last performance was a great display of his speed and explosiveness, and with such a mixture of skills under his belt, Adesanya may just meet his match.
With all of the attention aimed at his opponent, Brad Tavares has the opportunity to sneak in silently and break the hearts of the UFC PR team. Obviously, this is not the aim of the game, as Tavares has a chance to snatch the push and promotion Adesanya has received and if utilized correctly, Tavares could see himself back to fighting top ten level fighters once more. With the middleweight division slowly moving away from it’s recent stale period, now is the time for Tavares to make some noise and show a larger audience what he is capable of. Although both fighters are in for a tough bout in July, don’t sleep on Brad Tavares because he just might just wake you up.