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Tuck plans on being best version of self in Melbourne

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 08: (R-L) <a href='../fighter/Jon-Tuck'>Jon Tuck</a> kicks <a href='../fighter/josh-emmett'>Josh Emmett</a> in their lightweight bout during the <a href='../event/UFC-Silva-vs-Irvin'>UFC Fight Night </a>event at Ahoy Rotterdam on May 8, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Apparently, nothing is ever as it seems with Jon Tuck. See his name on the fight card, and he’ll show up, but the opponent across from him may not.

Frustrating, yes, but think how it feels for the Guam native, who has been scheduled at one time or another to face Nick Hein, Josh Emmett, Mehdi Baghdad, Alexander Volkanovski and Damien Brown in 2016.

Only one of those fights – against late injury replacement Emmett – actually took place, and Tuck hopes that the next one – this Saturday against Brown – comes through as well. Yet through it all, “The Super Saiyan” refuses to let any of this deter him from his goal of reaching the top of the UFC’s lightweight division.

“That’s the name of the game,” he said. “It can be frustrating, but then again, I’m a fighter and I ultimately train to be my best and there are no excuses. Even though I lost my last fight (against Emmett), I learned the most from that fight. I make sure I focus on preparing to be the best version of myself going into every fight and level up as a Super Saiyan.”

Call it the education of Jon Tuck, a process entering its fifth year at the UFC level, and one that he’s been able to navigate with an alternating series of wins and losses that he’s intent on making all wins beginning with this weekend’s matchup with Brown. And to get that point, it means cutting out all the miscellaneous annoyances that come with life in the fight game like opponent changes and long trips to the fight site, and just focusing on what happens when the Octagon gate closes.

So while many would dread the long voyage to Melbourne, Tuck has used the experience of fighting in China, England, the Philippines, and the Netherlands to aid him this week.

“I’m a martial artist, first and foremost,” he said. “So for me, I like to test myself outside of my comfort zone so I can really grow as a person, and that’s when I learn about myself the most, when I’m out of my comfort zone.”

And what would be the most uncomfortable place to fight in?

“I don’t have any limitations, to be honest,” he laughs. “I’ve been wanting to fight in Brazil. UFC Africa, put me down.”

That willingness to live up to the fighter’s code of “anytime, anyplace” didn’t come overnight. But now that he’s paid his dues, he doesn’t leave home without that knowledge.

“I put in the extra work and I do my homework,” he said. “More than I did as a kid, I’ve been using my head a lot more these days. I’m a pretty smart guy and I look into all the details. It’s like studying my opponent. It’s from who I’m fighting to where I’m fighting at and getting my food ready. If I have to, I’ll try to go a week and a half to two weeks early to acclimate. And I always take care of my body, especially before fights, so I’m always taking in the right nutrition, and you won’t see me as one of the guys who misses weight. That’s not an issue for me.”

About the only issue left at this point is fighting Brown, and that’s a good issue to have for Tuck, who is eager to get on with his first fight since May. And the way he’s been preparing is to not focus on his opponent, but on what he’s bringing to the table.

“It’s taking it back to the old school martial arts competitions where you didn’t know who you were fighting exactly,” he said. “As a martial artist, you want to prepare for any type of situation. I know I can beat any guy at any place and any time. The fight (against Emmett) was close, I lost by split decision, but I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

And why would he? Because the way he sees it, this will only make getting to his final destination even sweeter.

“Every champion has their own story,” Tuck said. “Maybe I’ve got three losses, but what’s a good book without some ups and downs?”

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