Thiago Tavares has floated around in the UFC for years, missing out on some chances to improve his ranking due to failed drug tests.
Saturday night, though, there was no doubt that Tavares is a threat, as he dominated Justin Salas before securing a submission win in the first round at UFC Fight Night 32.
Tavares (18-5-1) lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov this past January, but he was 4-1-1 prior to that. The win was his eighth in the UFC and his 12th via submission.
“The crowd, this is for you guys,” said Tavares, who was embraced as a hero by the Brazilian faithful. “You won tonight.”
Tavares gave credit to fellow UFC fighter Fabio Maldonado for improving his skills, saying, “I train a lot with Fabio. He teach me boxing.”
During the post-fight interview, Tavares made a push to compete in Santa Catarina in February. He missed out on a chance to fight in the city, which is close to his hometown of Florianopolis previously.
“I need to fight close to my city,” he screamed after trying to get a fighter in his gym a chance in the UFC by making a plea with Joe Silva.