Prospect of the Week: Michinori Tanaka
Michinori Tanaka is one of Japan’s brightest prospects. If recent rumors are correct, Tanaka is on his way to signing with the UFC, despite his management recently stating that they would rather wait another year before making the jump into the octagon.
Tanaka was not only the 2011 Shooto Rookie 132 lbs. Tournament Champion, but he also captured the overall MVP honor. Following a 5-0 run in the Shooto organization, Tanaka moved on to sign with Pacific Xtreme Combat. He defeated recently signed UFC fighter Russell Doane and fellow prospect Caleb Vallotton to earn a shot at the PXC Bantamweight title. Tanaka went on to win the belt via decision, and has since defended it once again Kyle Aguon.
Tanaka’s wrestling and ground game are excellent, but what makes him special are his transitions. He’s lightning fast, and has an absolute knack for escaping submissions and seizing the opportunity to apply his own. There is still some concern that he puts himself in danger too often, but he is so well-conditioned and calm under duress that there’s a reason he’s 9-0 overall.
Tanaka is still very young, having just turned 23 in October. His game still has a way to go before he ever challenges for title, but based off what I’ve seen him against recent Russell Doane and his training videos with Kyoji Horiguchi, the potential is there for Tanaka to become a very effective, successful fighter at the UFC level.
At this stage, Tanaka isn’t projected as an immediate Top 10 fighter in the UFC Bantamweight division, but we have seen guys like Erik Perez, Alex Caceres, and Sergio Pettis make their mark in the UFC.
Video 1: Tanaka training with Kyoji Horiguchi (2014, MMAplanet)
Video 2: Tanaka vs. Russell Doane (2012, PXC 34, Round 2)
Video 3: Tanaka vs. Caleb Vallotton (2013, PXC 36)
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Michinori-Tanaka-71942