Tai Tuivasa doesn’t drink beer.
“I only drink it when I do shoeys,” he told UFC.com, referencing his celebration where he drinks beer from a shoe. “I scull it. I can scull beer. I can’t sip beer. I don’t know.
“I’m a weirdo.”
Considering Tuivasa suffered his first professional loss – a second round TKO against Junior dos Santos at UFC Adelaide – he’s in good spirits about it. In fact, he rewatched the fight. Not just once or a few times, but every night before he goes to sleep. It’s not an act of self-torture, though. It’s a learning experience, one that taught Tuivasa he needed more patience. That said, he didn’t think he did anything explicitly wrong in the fight.
“That’s why I think it’s a funny one,” he said. “I don’t think that I was losing. I don’t think that I was getting out-beat or outstruck or anything like that. I think that’s just the epitome of heavyweight. It’s one punch (can) change the whole thing, and it f***ing did.”
If Tuivasa sounds like he’s at peace with the loss, it’s because he got over it as soon as the fight ended. Rather, he felt worse about “the missed opportunity” to climb up the heavyweight ranks, and he would welcome a second crack at JDS should the shot present itself.
“I’m sweet,” he said. “This is fighting. You win or you lose. That time, I lost, but for me to get over it and for me to get better, I think that I have to watch it, so I’m not scared of watching it. I’ve lost. It’s already out there.”
In his immediate future, Tuivasa has the chance to avoid his first losing-streak when he fights Blagoy Ivanov, a burly Bulgarian fighter who also lost to dos Santos in his promotional debut last July.
Blagoy holds a 17-2 (1 No Contest) record with six submissions wins and is a former Sambo practitioner. For Tuivasa, who admittedly “never been on the ground other than on my back,” improvements in his grappling is critical. That said, he hasn’t just increased the wrestling work into his training for this fight specifically, but for his career as a whole.
“I’m doing that to look forward, to move forward in the division,” he said. “I think – I’ve gotten better at wrestling already – once I get good at that, I think everyone is going to have a hard day in the office.”
Adding more wrestling practice and rewatching fights aren’t the only unique anecdotes from this camp. Tuivasa has found a new drink of choice and is feeling much better than normal. No, it’s not vegetable juices or some sort of protein shake. Instead of mixing liquor with sugary sodas, Tuivasa has turned to vodka with soda water, because, of course.
“That s*** is for real,” Tuivasa said. “Vodka-soda works. All you fatties out there, get on the vodka-sodas. It’ll change your life.”
Don’t get it twisted: Tuivasa is here to get back to his winning ways. It just so happens his winning ways include a celebratory drink, or two, or – you get the point. Expect multiple shoeys if Tuivasa’s hand is raised in the United Center, where he last fought and beat Andrei Arlovski at UFC 225.
“I’m going to go for a record this time,” he said. “I’m going to try and get five shoes, 10 shoes by the time I get out of there.”
Those vodka-sodas can wait.
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.