After a historic weight miss and losses in three of his first four UFC bouts, Justin Tafa likely needed the best performance of his career on Saturday to keep his spot in the promotion.
Fortunately, he delivered exactly that.
The 28-year-old New Zealander demolished Harry Hunsucker on the undercard of UFC Vegas 45, knocking out his fellow heavyweight up-and-comer with a grisly first-round barrage ended by a head kick that shut Hunsucker’s lights out.
“I caught him with a left straight at the beginning and I knew he hadn’t recuperated from that, so I capitalized on it,” Tafa said. “I knew he was watching for my hands, so I had to show him my leg.”
Check out video of the finishing sequence below.
HEAVYWEIGHT HEAD KICK!!!!!!!!! #UFCVegas45 pic.twitter.com/ZL6bfV9Dzk— UFC (@ufc) December 18, 2021
Replay necessary for that KO #UFCVegas45 pic.twitter.com/9kecjocXDL— UFC (@ufc) December 18, 2021
Tafa (5-3) made a dubious bit of history on Friday when he became the first UFC heavyweight to ever miss weight, tipping the scales at 267 pounds for his bout with Hunsucker (7-5), one pound over the heavyweight non-title limit. Nonetheless, Tafa moved to 2-3 in his octagon career after Saturday’s victorious performance, while Hunsucker dropped to 0-2.
Afterward, Tafa called out former opponent Carlos Felipe for a rematch of their January bout, which Felipe won via split decision.
“I want to get on that Izzy [Adesanya] card, February 12. Maybe someone wants a rematch,” Tafa declared. “You know I beat you Abu Dhabi. I want that back.”