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UFC FIGHT NIGHT 27:

Emerging local Brad Tavares looks to knock off fellow Ultimate Fighter alum

Tavares aware of Bubba McDaniel’s mindset going into Wednesday’s fight card

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Sam Morris

Brad Tavares poses for a photo while competing on the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in this file photo from 2010.

UFC Fight Night 27 complete card and betting odds

  • Welterweight bout: Carlos Condit (-250) vs. Martin Kampmann (+210)
  • Lightweight bout: Donald Cerrone (-140) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (+120)
  • Welterweight bout: Kelvin Gastelum (-220) vs. Brian Melancon (+190)
  • Middleweight bout: Court McGee (+125) vs. Robert Whittaker (-145)
  • Bantamweight bout: Takeya Mizugaki (+120) vs. Erik Perez (-140)
  • Middleweight bout: Brad Tavares (-430) vs. Bubba McDaniel (+350)
  • Middleweight bout: Dylan Andrews (-270) vs. Papy Abedi (+230)
  • Welterweight bout: Justin Edwards (+205) vs. Brandon Thatch (-245)
  • Featherweight bout: Darren Elkins (+110) vs. Hatsu Hioki (-130)
  • Welterweight bout: James Head (-105) vs. Jason High (-115)
  • Welterweight bout: Zak Cummings (-120) vs. Benny Alloway (Even)
  • Lightweight bout: Roger Bowling (+105) vs. Abel Trujillo (-125)
  • Numbers from William Hill sports book

The most memorable moment of Brad Tavares’ career didn’t so much come after a fight.

It came before one. The 25-year-old middleweight will never forget the sensation coursing through his body when he walked to the octagon for a UFC 125 matchup against Phil Baroni.

The bout was Tavares’ first after securing a contract with the promotion through a stint on the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“Seeing that crowd in a bigger arena and the sound system playing my song, it was the best feeling,” Tavares said. “It pumped me up and got the emotions going.”

The locally based fighter rode the motivation to arguably the best showing of his career, a first-round knockout victory against the veteran Baroni.

Tavares (10-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) expects Bubba McDaniel (21-6 MMA, 1-0 UFC) to experience a similar rush when they meet Wednesday on the main card of UFC Fight Night 27 in Indianapolis. The 30-year-old McDaniel is fresh off the latest season of “TUF,” meaning the Tavares showdown is his first as an official member of the UFC roster.

“But it all depends,” Tavares said. “Some people fold under pressure. I’m not saying he’ll do that, but when some people see all the fans and realize the stage — and we’re on the main card — they react differently. We’ll have to see how he reacts, but I know I’m comfortable with it.”

And comfortable for a reason. Despite bowing out of “TUF” in the semifinals, Tavares has gone on to find the most success in the UFC from his season’s cast.

He’s on a three-fight win streak — taking decisions over Riki Fukuda, Tom Watson and Dongi Yang — that’s gotten the division to start taking notice.

“I have a lot of respect for the kind of fighter he is,” McDaniel said through UFC.com. “He was one of the fighters I pulled for on ‘TUF’ 11 and am very happy to be able to test myself against a fighter of his abilities.”

Tavares has heard McDaniel’s praise. He’s also caught wind of McDaniel promising an exciting fight through Twitter.

But Tavares is having a tough time believing it.

“I don’t think he’ll want to trade blow for blow with me,” Tavares said. “I doubt it. I think what he’s going to do is come in there, try to hug me, push me against the cage and make it one of those fights.”

Tavares’ only defeat came when Aaron Simpson trapped him against the cage and won a forgettable battle from the clinch at UFC 132. For the fans’ sake, Tavares says he hopes that’s not the strategy McDaniel employs.

But if McDaniel does resort to those tactics, Tavares feels better equipped to handle it than he did two years ago against Simpson. Tavares thinks McDaniel is the final challenge the UFC is throwing his way to prove he belongs in the upper reaches of the middleweight division.

“With this win and the win streak I’m on, I know it’s not going to take me to the top 10 because you’ve got to beat someone who’s in there to get there,” Tavares said. “But I do think this will get me that fight to get in there.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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