Watch the interview with Tafon Nchukwi in the clip above
Tafon Nchukwi is not trying to intimidate any of his opponents before his fights.
The 3-0 prospect learned it the hard way. After struggling to find opponents throughout his amateur and professional career, Nchukwi now stays calm, cool and collected.
The 25-year-old is taking his approach to his light-heavyweight debut against Al Matavao on Dana White’s Contender Series on Sept. 8.
“I always try to keep a shy kind of demeanor. If you see me at the weigh-ins, I don’t even try to look at my opponents like that. I just stay in my own little corner, chill, listen to my music,” Nchukwi said.
“I don’t even try to pay attention to them because it’s like, ‘I’m not trying to scare you man because I might look at you the wrong way and you just come out with some type of injury and you can’t fight the next day.”
It only takes one
For someone who struggles to find fights, Nchukwi’s first year as a professional fighter was a busy one. He is already getting a chance at a UFC contract after three bouts.
Since making his professional debut in March 2019, Nchukwi earned three-straight TKO finishes. He is yet to go past the second round.
He earned a statement victory in his last outing, finishing UFC development deal fighter William Knight in the first round at CFFC 80 this past November. Knight came into the bout unbeaten with six professional bouts compared to Nchukwi’s two.
Nchukwi needed less than three minutes to put Knight away.
“Getting that opportunity with William Knight was a blessing right there. Without that opportunity I feel like the route would have probably been a little longer,” Nchuwki said. “Because of him and all the hype he had behind him and all the eyes that were watching, I had a chance to show I definitely belong in there.”
Nchukwi is used to waiting months to find an opponent, making his matchup with Knight all the more significant. He even fought a professional muy-thai bout for Lion Fight Promotions as an amateur MMA fighter just to stay active.
Nchukwi said. “Cards would come up, we would try to get on the card, we would hit up the promoters and every time it would get rejected, rejected, rejected.”
Like Knight, Matavao is another clear opportunity for Nchukwi. Matavao is on a four-fight win streak, finishing his last two opponents in the opening round.
He most recently defeated Collin Mansanas with a 16-second KO at Destiny MMA on Feb. 23.
“I’m going to get in there, get his [Matavao] timing down and go to work,” Nchukwi said. “I can’t slack on him at all.”
“You’re about to find out”
Tafon Nchukwi is used to fighting opponents with more extensive records than his own. He’s done it his entire career. He made his professional debut against Alex Myers, who fought three times before facing Nchukwi.
Knight and AT McCowin both fought more times than Nchukwi as well.
The contender series is the biggest stage for Nchukwi, who has been fighting professionally for a little over a year. Matavao is also the most experienced of Nchukwi’s opponents to date.
The African fighter is yet to shy way, just look at his results. He is more concerned his opponents will.
“All the opponents who accepted a fight with me have come in there to mess me up. They see my record and are like, ‘Yeah, this is about to be an easy walk through fight,’” Nchukwi said. “So when they come in there, they are always trying to intimidate me and in my head I’m like, “OK, you’re about to find out.’”