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Justin Tafa of New Zealand poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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Justin Tafa: Return Of The Bad Man

Australian Heavyweight Looking For Third Straight KO Victory Saturday In Jacksonville

“You know, my son didn't believe I knock people out. So he got to see firsthand for the first time, me at work.”

Justin Tafa is taking us back to the last time we saw him at the office, knocking out Parker Porter just 65 seconds into their UFC 284 bout last February. It was another trademark performance from the knockout artist made all the sweeter by doing it in front of his home country of Australia. And proving to your son that you are indeed one of the baddest heavyweights on the planet? You can’t really put a price on that.

Jacksonville's Fight By Fight Preview

“It was perfect, other than no bonus (laughs). I couldn't have asked for a better performance, especially in front of my family and my kids.”

Justin Tafa Lands Huge Head Kick Knockout | UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus
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Justin Tafa Lands Huge Head Kick Knockout | UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus
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It was also the start of his first UFC win streak, something he’s aiming to keep alive when he meets Austen Lane Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs Topuria. Less than three minutes combined, Tafa’s last two outings have been spectacular. So what was the secret sauce?

RELATED: Former Jacksonville Jaguar Lane To Make UFC Debut Saturday

“I think it's more just waiting for the knockout to come kind of thing, rather than seeking it,” he says matter-of-factly.

Knockouts are Tafa’s bread and butter. All six of his pro wins have ended with a KO and only two of those went past the first frame.

Joining the UFC with just three fights under his belt, the future wasn’t always as easy to see. He stumbled in three of his first four with the promotion, but he takes those losses in his stoic, pragmatic manner.

Justin Tafa of New Zealand punches Parker Porter of the United States in a heavyweight fight during UFC 284 at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Justin Tafa of New Zealand punches Parker Porter of the United States in a heavyweight fight during UFC 284 at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

“I came into this game quite early, so I've had a few fights to learn and I feel like I'm getting better and better every fight.”

That’s good, because the tests aren’t going to get easier. Enter Saturday’s opponent, Lane. The alumnus of Dana White’s Contender Series rides a six-fight win streak into Florida, and boasts a six-inch height and reach advantage.

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“He’s a tall boy. It’s going to take some time to get there. He’s done well to get into the UFC, but I’m about to show him some levels.

“I think he’s a more grapple-type of fighter and I'm more of a striker. It's one of those grappler versus striker fights. And if he decides to strike, he'll see there'll be a lot of holes in his game. I just can’t wait for the fireworks.”

Justin Tafa of New Zealand reacts with Michael Bisping after his knockout victory over Parker Porter in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 284 event at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Justin Tafa of New Zealand reacts with Michael Bisping after his knockout victory over Parker Porter in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 284 event at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

On top of making his UFC debut, Lane is also beloved by the local Jacksonville community, where he used to play for their NFL franchise Jaguars. But Tafa has traveled halfway around the world to live up to his nickname “Bad Man.”

“Yeah, for sure. I’m coming here to spoil the party,” he jokes. “I just come to fight. I don’t care if we're fighting on the moon. I come here to put on a show, and everyone can be entertained.”

RELATED: Best Finishes From Saturday's Fighters

Everyone being entertained is the easiest bet of the night when one of the Tafa boys are involved. Justin’s younger brother Junior recently began his UFC journey, and at 29 and 26 years of age, respectively, they have their eyes on being the new family face of the heavyweight division.

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“If you were to ask all our school friends: ‘Is it a surprise that these brothers are fighters now?’ They wouldn't be surprised at all. It's just something that came natural to us. We come from a fighting family. And, at the same time, we grew up in a rough neighborhood. So fighting was just a necessity.”

From necessity to vocation with your brother sounds as rare as it does special.

“It's a privilege. You know, we used to fight for free and now we get paid for it.”

UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs Topuria took place live from the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on June 24, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass