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UFC 293: Tai Tuivasa on being known as the 'Shoey Guy' before facing Alexander Volkov in Sydney

Tai Tuivasa and Ciryl Gane bump fists as a mark of respect during their bout last September
Tuivasa (left) is aiming to halt a two-fight losing streak against Volkov

Before being described as a fighter, Tai Tuivasa is known as the "Shoey Guy".

A shoey, a practice which is popular in Australia, involves having a celebratory drink - often a beer in Tuivasa's case - from a shoe.

Australian heavyweight Tuivasa, 30, has celebrated this way following many of his eight wins in the UFC, even gulping the drink from the shoes of fans who are sat by the side of the octagon.

His celebration has been dubbed the 'Shoeyvasa', and, despite admitting you can sometimes taste the person's shoe, Tuivasa is planning on repeating it if he beats Russia's Alexander Volkov at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.

"I'm the Shoey Guy before I'm a fighter," said Tuivasa.

"Sometimes [you can taste the shoe]. It really depends whose shoe it is, and I've had some bad ones.

"After I get the job done, [against Volkov] there will be a couple days worth of shoeys."

Away from the octagon, Tuivasa is a family man who likes to spend time with his son, enjoys going fishing and likes beer.

When asked why he fights, Tuivasa does not over complicate things, saying: "It's my job. Go to work. Get paid."

It is Tuivasa's matter-of-fact and relatable attitude which has aided the 30-year-old Australian heavyweight in becoming one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster.

"I'm pretty much what you see, I'm just a normal bloke. I'm thankful for what I have. I get to knock people out and get away with it," said Tuivasa.

"You know this is a job. I don't hate these people I'm fighting. His job is to rock up and fight me and my job is to rock up and fight him, and we both get paid, we both go home to our families.

"That's the that's the best thing about it. While we're in there, we're going to punch each other's head off, and then, while we're not, we may as well have a beer. Easy."

'I like punching people, I like getting punched'

Tai Tuivasa and Alexander Volkov face off before their fight at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia
Tuivasa and Volkov say they will share a beer together following their bout in Sydney.

Tuivasa's bout with Volkov at the Qudos Bank Arena will serve as the co-main event on the card, before Israel Adesanya's middleweight title defence against Sean Strickland.

Tuivasa is heading into the bout with 34-year-old Volkov following two successive defeats, to Ciryl Gane last September and Sergei Pavlovich in December.

Those losses halted the Aussie's momentum, which had seen him win five successive bouts, all by knockout.

Despite the setbacks, Tuivasa looks back on his performances with a light-hearted attitude.

"You can't sit around and cry about it. That's not how I roll, you know what I mean? I move forward, I learn. And I live," he said.

"I took a lot away from those fights. But what it was, I needed the time, I need the rest. I've had a rest now. I've been back home surrounded by people that I love. I'm refreshed now, I'm ready to roll."

Although Tuivasa says he doesn't live and breathe the sport like many fellow athletes, he is vocal about the thrill of fighting in the octagon, and is relishing returning to action in front of his home fans in Sydney for the first time since 2017.

"I fight to pay the bills. And I love it. I love the battle, the actual fight. Obviously it takes a lot of preparation, dedication and hard work to get there. That all comes along with it. That's more like the cherry on top for me," says Tuivasa.

"I get to express myself and not get in trouble.

"Other than the actual fighting, I don't really talk about it. I don't watch the UFC. I don't really follow any fighters.

"I just like punching people. I like getting punched. I like testing myself. But other than that, it's my job. Go to work."

Tuivasa's son will be in the crowd to watch his performance against Volkov but he is keen for him not to follow his path into fighting.

"Hopefully I can teach him [he should] stay in school and you don't have to get punched to get paid," said Tuivasa.

"My son's a good boy, he's going to go to school."