UFC Heavyweight Steps in for His Brother On 1 Day’s Notice At UFC 298

UFC 298's Junior Tafa

Getty Junior Tafa is replacing his brother Justin at UFC 298

The UFC almost lost a fight featuring a ranked fighter the day before UFC 298.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima was slated to fight Justin Tafa on the preliminary card of the event.

Unfortunately, Tafa was forced to withdraw from the fight because of an injury just hours before he needed to weigh in for the fight.

Luckily for the UFC, Justin isn’t the only Tafa on the roster.

His younger brother, Junior Tafa, is also a UFC heavyweight and is coming off of a KO win in his last fight.

In a wild turn of events, the UFC announced (via Aaron Bronsteter) that Junior would be replacing Justin in the fight against de Lima.

It’s a huge opportunity for Tafa who now gets to face a ranked opponent for the first time in his career while the replacement fight also means de Lima will still get the chance to bounce back from his UFC 291 loss to Derrick Lewis.

The Tafa Brothers’ Shared UFC Opponents

This isn’t the first time one of the Tafa brothers has taken on an opponent that was previously scheduled to fight the other brother.

Fellow heavyweight Parker Porter actually fought both in 2023. He took on Justin at UFC 284 in February. Then he fought Junior on a Fight Night card in August. Porter was knocked out in less than 90 seconds by both brothers.

On the card where Justin fought Porter, Junior was supposed to make his UFC debut against Austen Lane. That fight ended up falling apart, but Lane still ended up fighting a Tafa twice in 2023.

He took on Justin at a Fight Night in June. That fight was declared a no contest after 29 seconds when Tafa couldn’t continue because of an eye poke.

The fight was rebooked for UFC 293 and didn’t last much longer the second time around. Tafa needed just 82 seconds to knock Lane out in the rematch.

Now Junior will be hoping to do the same against an opponent his brother was originally scheduled to face.

What the Change Means for de Lima

Usually when a fighter has to deal with a last-minute change to an upcoming fight, they have to make big adjustments to their game plan for the fight.

That will not be the case for de Lima at UFC 298.

His gameplan should remain the same regardless of which Tafa he’s fighting.

Both brothers are heavy-handed strikers looking to finish fights early. Neither has won a fight in the UFC that lasted more than two minutes.

The game plan for de Lima should be to stay at long range on the feet and get the fight to the ground as soon as possible.

That task could still be a difficult one for him.

While Justin has yet to be taken down yet in the UFC, Junior’s takedown defense has been tested more.

He faced 12 takedown attempts against Mohammed Usman in his UFC debut. He fended off 10 of them.

De Lima will need to do what he couldn’t in his fight against Lewis and get this fight to the ground before his opponent can land a knockout shot.

If he can build on his 47% career takedown accuracy to keep himself out of harm’s way, he should be able to get himself back into the win column at UFC 298.

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