Gavin Tucker is an undefeated Featherweight contender, fighting out of Titans MMA, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Originally from Ship Cove, Newfoundland, Tucker gained momentum in Atlantic Canada in 2014, campaigning to be placed on the UFC’s first Halifax card, and in the process, become the first Newfoundlander to enter the world-famous Octagon. Unfortunately, the spot went to another fighter, Tucker’s teammate Chris Kelades. Now, after compiling a perfect 9-0 record, that includes 4 TKO’s and 4 submissions, Tucker once again finds himself looking to perform on the sport’s biggest stage, when the UFC returns to Halifax in February.
“I think last time, it had more to do with my lack of activity,” says Tucker, “I had been dealing with some injuries that kept me out of action. Now, I honestly think I have a much better chance. We’ve been in touch with (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby. He knows who I am.”
Tucker’s martial arts journey began when he was a boy, watching Bruce Lee boxsets with his cousins. From there, he began studying Taekwondo, eventually progressing to Judo. Since leaving behind his days as a trained Jazz musician to pursue MMA, he has travelled to Thailand to work on his Muay Thai, and New York, training at the legendary Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan to improve his ground game.
“It’s definitely a surreal experience, to be there. But once you get over the initial “oh my god,” you’ve just got to put in the work that you’re there to do.”
There is a sense of pride in Tucker’s voice when talking about Newfoundland. After retaining his Extreme Cage Combat Featherweight title against David “Bo” Harris in February of 2015, he explained to the crowd that he was “Collecting belts for Newfoundland.” When asked what it meant to him to represent the province, Tucker explained that the perceived pressure doesn’t bother him too much. He’s comfortable with people’s support, but doesn’t let it weigh him down. The long hours he puts in with his coaches and teammates is all the motivation he needs. “I’m sure there are people out there who work hard, but I know the way I train. There’s nobody out there that puts their nose to the grindstone like I do.”
Other than the cage time that he has been able to log since his last campaign to get into the UFC, one more change this time around is the fact that Tucker wouldn’t be the only Newfoundlander in the world’s premier Mixed Martial Arts organization. Ryan Janes now lives in Vancouver, but was born in Grand Falls-Winsor and raised in St. John’s. Janes is set to make his UFC debut on December 9th.
“He seems like a nice enough guy. Good for him for doing it. He just needs to stay away from 135 and 145”, says Tucker, referring to the Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions he competes in. Janes fights in the Middleweight division (185 lbs).
Tucker figures he probably has at least five years left as an active competitor. He feels he’s getting better each day, and more motivated than ever to make it to the top of the sport.
“I’m just looking for my chance to go out there under those bright lights and fight the best guys.”