thiago-tavares-11.jpgAs the blood trickled down his face, Thiago Tavares couldn’t believe what was happening. All the aches and pains of training camp, the weeks of sacrifice and preparation, were about to be lost in the most unfortunate scenario imaginable.

“I was warming up, and I shot in on a double-leg with my training partner, and I got a cut over my eye,” Tavares told MMAjunkie. “Everybody in the locker room was worried they were going to cancel the fight. The doctor came in and said if we couldn’t stop the blood, he would have to call it. My cornerman immediately just put pressure on it and told me not to warm up at all. He was worried if my blood was pumping, the cut would keep bleeding.”

And so Tavares did exactly that. Sitting in his locker room at Goiania Arena – with Burt Watson yelling in the background, other UFC Fight Night 32 fighters hitting mitts and pumping themselves up for the combat that would soon come – Tavares held a towel to his head, damning his own luck.

But he was allowed to walk to the cage.

“I just sat there until like three minutes before the fight, and then I just threw some punches to warm up and went to the octagon,” Tavares said.

Fortunately for the 29-year-old Brazilian, the wound held up during his walk to the octagon. It didn’t last long, though, and Tavares felt the blood flow again during the opening moments of his bout with Justin Salas. At that point, however, Tavares said he didn’t care.

“I could feel the bleeding, but I wasn’t worried about it at that point,” Tavares said. “I just wanted to fight. Once the fight started, I wasn’t worried about it.”

Despite the distractions, Tavares turned in a scintillating performance, overwhelming Justin Salas from the opening bell and scoring a first-round submission via rear-naked choke. The win saw Tavares move to 3-1 in his previous four fights and helped to erase the sting of a January loss and subsequent post-fight drug test he says he still doesn’t know why he failed.

“My last fight, I trained really hard, but I took a hard punch and couldn’t show my work,” Tavares said. “This time, I was more confident, and I was fortunate to do a great job.

“I don’t know what happened with my test. I’ve done tests with blood in my hometown, and nothing showed up, but the commission test showed something. I don’t know if it was a medicine I was taking at the time or just a false positive. I’m just glad it’s behind me.”

Tavares (18-5-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC), a mainstay in the UFC’s lightweight division since 2007, has fought in his native Brazil in his past four appearances, and he hope to keep that pattern rolling into the new year. Born and raised in Florianopolis, Tavares has his eye on the UFC’s February return to Jaragua do Sul, which is just a short two hour drive from his hometown.

“I want to fight in Jaragua do Sul,” Tavares said. “I’m the first MMA fighter from my island, from my city. I want to fight in Jaragua do Sul because it’s so close to my city. It would be crazy with all my friends and family in the crowd. It would be a dream.”

And this time, perhaps he can save the lacerations for after the fight begins.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, including the Feb. 8 event in Jaragua do Sul, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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