But that wasn’t only time that Tavares, who’s now set to meet Krzysztof Jotko at UFC on FOX 29 on April 14, was willing to forego a full fight camp in order to meet a big name.
A few weeks ago, Tavares sat in MMAjunkie Radio’s studio as fellow UFC middleweight Derek Brunson recapped the issues that plagued his camp ahead of his UFC on FOX 27 rematch with Ronaldo Souza. Brunson, who ended up losing via first-round knockout, told the hosts that he battles illness for a lot of his preparation and even considered pulling out before ultimately feeling healthy enough to compete.
Tavares, he’d later add, knew that to be true.
Why? He was contacted about the situation and was preparing to step in for Brunson on a week’s notice if it came down to it.
“I’m in shape, man,” Tavares told MMAjunkie Radio. “I was like, ‘All right, cool. Give me a week. I can make 185 (pounds) for sure, and I think I could do five rounds with ‘Jacare.’”
That ended up not being necessary, but you can’t blame a guy for shooting his shot. Although, in his case, it was more like three shots.
Not long before that, Tavares had been contacted about the possibility of stepping in against former UFC champ Belfort, who got as far as weighing himself in for his swan song when a scary health issue landed his would-be opponent in the hospital.
“They called me on Saturday, and I’d just finished working, training, boxing, sparring, and I had missed calls from (manager Ali Abdelaziz), and I already knew,” Tavares said. “I was like, ‘This is going to be about that.’ So I called him back, and he was like, ‘Hey, would you step in to fight Vitor?’”
That was the day before the card in St. Louis, which happened on a Sunday. Tavares thought, at the time, they wanted him to fly out that very night. But not even that, or the fact he’d just jammed up his leg two days prior, kept him from saying yes.
“I was like, ‘Whatever, I guess I just won’t kick with that,’” Tavares said.
When he found out that they actually wanted to push the fight to UFC 220, which was set to take place in Boston the following card, Tavares figured, “perfect.”
“I put in for that and he didn’t – or whatever, I don’t know what happened,” Tavares said. “It didn’t end up going through.”
But the middleweight wasn’t done with his hunt for big UFC names. On Twitter, he’d respectfully volunteered to serve as former middleweight champion Michael Bisping’s final opponent – only to find out, via the UFC, that “The Count” wasn’t interested.
But Tavares, who was one name on a long list of men who signed up for the job, didn’t take Bisping’s refusal too personally.
“I get it; it’s his retirement fight,” Tavares said. “He wants to be picky. I’m sure – more so than him – I’m sure his family, friends and people around him want to see him go out in the right way. Knowing Bisping, that man is definitely not a (expletive).”
It helps that he didn’t do too bad for himself. Tavares (16-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC), who’s currently No. 15 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, was paired up against the No. 14 ranked fighter in Jotko (19-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC). Their FOX-televised bout takes place April 14 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
It’s a matchup that Tavares likes and that could be meaningful for him. Should he come out victorious, he’ll be on a four-fight winning streak – a run that might not scream “title shot,” but it’s certainly enough to at least warrant him some attention.
Tavares, who had to overcome a rough 1-3 UFC stretch before getting back on track, doesn’t know the number of wins that would have to follow in order for him to put him in title consideration.
“Two, three more fights after that?” Tavares speculated. “Depending on who those guys are.”
Tavares does think, however, that a shortcut might end up presenting itself in the form of a short-notice call against a top contender. And, judging from what we’ve been able to see recently, one would think jumping on one of those shouldn’t be a problem.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Why – 15 fights into UFC career – Brad Tavares is still volunteering for short-notice bouts