Stricken with injuries, Thiago Tavares only made one appearance in 2009, beating Manny Gamburyan in January. The fighter was just planning his end-of-the-year festivities when his manager, Alex Davis, changed everything. The Jiu-Jitsu black belt was offered Nik Lenz, a fighter riding a seven-fight winning streak, as an opponent. Thiago would substitute the injured Jeremy Stephens in the matchup. The fight is to take place at the January 11 Ultimate Fight Night event in Virginia. Check out the conversation the fighter had with GRACIEMAG.com.
He’s really good, but I’m better” Thiago Tavares
What do you expect from your opponent?
I’ve studied his game a lot and I know what I’m going to do. He’s a good fighter, but I’m better. So I expect the same thing as all my fights. I’m going to finish it regardless. Everyone knows I don’t fight to go to a decision. I’m going for the knockout or submission. I’m only sure of one thing: I’m going to win this fight. How? I don’t yet know, but on the 11th I’ll have an answer for you.
There are Brazilian contenders for belts in all the divisions of the UFC. Do you hope to be one in the lightweight division?
Sincerely, I’m taking it one thing at a time. I can’t want to climb a mountain and then trip on a pebble. But I am aware of by abilities, I’ve evolved a lot in my weaknesses and, with every training session, I feel better prepared to face the best in my category. I know what I can do, but it wouldn’t be right to say I want to fight for the belt now. I won my last fight, but I came off a string of losses and spent a long time inactive. But 2010 will be Thiago Tavares’s year. I hope to win my next three, four fights and then I’ll be in a position to fight for the belt. And to beat me you’ll have to kill me.
How has your training been going? Will you spend some time at the ATT?
I was planning to fight in February, so I would train a month at the ATT, in the United States. But my manager called me and asked if I’d like to fight in January, since Jeremy got injured. I accepted right then and there and there was only a month till the fight. I’ve got good training partners here, with Peu in muay thai, Murilo Rupp in Jiu-Jitsu and Kevin in boxing. So I’ll be well prepared as always.
Was it hard to go so long without fighting?
It was alright, since, while I recovered, I could help the other athletes at my academy here in Florianopolis train, like Ivan Batman and Nazareno. I kept myself busy and, when I returned to training, for their having fought the whole year, they were at a very high rhythm and that pushed me, too. As it happened, even though I wasn’t fighting, it was a busy year.