Regional | Dan "The Hangman" Hooker

Tauzemup raring to achieve double champ status at XFC 56 next week

Aaron Tau (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Toro) has been seizing opportunities and reaping the rewards in the New Zealand mixed martial arts scene over the past four years and he plans to keep doing that.

Tau has found tremendous success since he became the first winner of Ngāti Maniapoto UFC fighter Dan Hooker's scholarship programme in 2018.

"I turned pro in my first fight with Dan, fought on King in the Ring on Sky Sport, I've gone 5-0, as a professional, three titles to my name, won it and then defended it twice."

Those title wins have come by way of clearing the competition in XFC New Zealand, where he is the current bantamweight champion. On May 20, Tau is not defending the gold but is fighting for more of it.

More gold to hold

"I'm moving up to featherweight for this fight next weekend down in Dunedin. I'm going to make it four in a row, make it double champ, so a two weight-class champion."

XFC 56 is coming to the Edgar Centre Dunedin Friday May 20th Doors open at 5.30pm first fight 6.30pm Main Event XFC...

Posted by XFC on Monday, April 11, 2022

The man standing in Tau's way of becoming a two-division champion is Shem "Money" Murdoch. Even though Murdoch has the hometown advantage in Ōtepoti for XFC 56's main event, “Tauzemup” is fully prepared for all scenarios.

"if it happens to go to the ground or we've got to wrestle. I wrestle with the best every day of the week.

"I'm happy to go into deep waters, [or] end it early."

The biggest goal of all, like any aspiring MMA fighter, is to make it to the UFC. Three years since he set that goal, Tau says he'll be ready for the big time when his coaches say so.

“I just turn up, train and fight. If they think I'm ready, I'm sure they will put me forward.

“Everyone put in front of me is a test. If I keep passing the test, they have no reason not to give me the opportunity.”

Student becomes the teacher

When the Combat Academy fighter is not training or winning fights inside the cage, he's giving back as a coach to the gym that gave him his professional start in the form of the Bucket List.

“It's like a corporate MMA event. I trained the fighters pretty much for 14 weeks. We go through all the basics of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and then the integration of all those martial arts.”

“The Hangman” self-appointed his student to become the teacher to run the programme.

“I gave him this programme as a way to train fulltime,” Dan Hooker says. "I let him run the Bucket List so he can make a living for himself. He uses the gym, I can help him along the way and point him in the right direction. But this event allows him to train and pursue his dream of becoming a UFC champion."

Tau's final message for his fighters, when they step into the cage to showcase 14 weeks of intense training this Saturday, is simple.

“Enjoy the experience.

“The reason that you’re here is to express yourself in a way where you can bring Tūmatauenga to your forefront, without getting into an altercation with the police that’s going to get you hurt. You want a controlled environment where Tūmatauenga can thrive, then we can go back to Rongo and be happy again."

From student to pro fighter, to champion, to teacher, and potentially becoming a ‘champ-champ’ next Friday - Aaron is ready to “Tauzemup” once again.