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In the Heavyweight division, we have an intriguing fight between Augusto Sakai and Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa. Originally the two were scheduled to throw down on November 20th. However, visa issues would scrap those plans and reschedule the fight three weeks later. Sakai comes into this fight on a two-fight skid. Having been stopped in both fights, Sakai is unknown territory. Before the losing streak, Sakai had lost once professionally, was on a six-fight win streak and had never been stopped before. Meanwhile, Tuivasa has seen a career resurgence. Riding a three-fight win streak, all which have come via stoppage, Tuivasa has certainly put to bed a previous three-fight losing streak that almost got him cut from the UFC.
This should be a crowd pleaser, as both men are pure strikers who have laid waste to most of their opponents. Augusto Sakai may be struggling of late, but that is in part to facing excellent competition in Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruick. While many may believe that his durability is gone, I’d argue that before those fights, it had been noted as a strength. Punishment and father time do play roles in diminishing durability, but with only nineteen fights and age thirty, none of those seem to be the case. As for Tai Tuivasa, the Shoey drinking slugger has seemingly come into his own of late. With three straight opening round knockouts, including most recently a sixty-seven second knockout over Greg Hardy, Tuivasa is not one you want to go toe-to-toe with.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Sakai. While I understand that both fighters are currently headed in opposite directions, I still believe that Sakai has the better skill set in this fight. Of course, this being a Heavyweight fight and Tuivasa sporting eleven knockouts in twelve wins, all it takes is one punch. However, Sakai boasts good durability, cardio and the ability to land with volume and power. As long as Sakai can withstand any early adversity, the later this fight goes, the more it leans towards Sakai. So with that said, I predict that Sakai wins via late TKO.