World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report: #2 - Taiki Tsuchiya

One of the major storylines stemming from the UFC 126 results was the failures of Japan's top featherweights, "Kid" Yamamoto and Michihiro Omigawa. Their inability to deal with the speed, wrestling, and effective striking of both Demetrious Johnson and Chad Mendes fueled a lot of talk that Japanese mixed martial arts might as well fall off the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, Japan's scene has become irrelevant in the upper-echelon of most weight classes, but the region still has a few standout fighters who could make a splash in larger promotions with some work and a change in their mindset. Our #2 ranked prospect, Taiki Tsuchiya (9-2), is easily one of the most exciting prospects in Japan, and while most fans will see his weaknesses in the ground department as the ultimate Achilles' heel -- I think most readers will agree that Tsuchiya's stand-up is on another level.

Offensive Skills: Tsuchiya is the most exciting striker on our countdown, hands down. While he may not having the training that a guy like Omer has at his disposal, Tsuchiya brings a swagger to his stand-up game that is undeniably likable. Speed is the catalyst to his effectiveness in the ring, and his footwork allows him to find angles and counter opponents repeatedly. His aggressiveness also gives him that added edge that fans look for in the fighters they resonate with, and Tsuchiya has a style that is pleasing to watch.

Look no further than his battle with Tony Hervey for a highlight reel of awesome. Speedy jabs combined with powerful overhands are his bread and butter weapons, but he has a respectable ranged kickboxing game, good clinch attacks, and brutal ground and pound when the opportunity arises.

Defensive Skills: The speed of his footwork is his best asset in evading damage from incoming attacks. Like Matsumoto, Tsuchiya tends to maintain a distance and move in quickly, but he's much speedier and more willing to go toe-to-toe with his prey. That leaves him open for counters, but he's proven that his chin can handle the heat.

On the ground, he's a bit more active than his DEEP counterpart Koichiro Matsumoto. He's more willing to try to posture up and blast his opponents from top control, and he's a bit more versed in how his opponents are going to exploit his positioning on the ground. His takedown defense isn't something to write home about, but it's not terrible by any means.

Progression: Tsuchiya is one of the few fighters on our countdown with an extensive library of footage available online. I wish more promotions would see the benefit of giving fans access to these fighters. BAMMA, I'm looking at you.

Tsuchiya's accuracy and tightness in his stand-up game are his most improved attributes. Early in his career, he was a sloppy striker who won purely on his footwork, speed, and unpredictability. His agility is a powerful tool, but his effectiveness was limited without the correct form and technical game to be a legitimate threat to better fighters. He's picked up the technical knowledge along the way, and it should prove to be fruitful for his future in the sport. At only 26 years old, it'll be interesting to see how he progresses from here.

Environment: Tsuchiya currently trains out of Roots in Japan. Rumina Sato, Shooto 125 pound champion Mamoru Yamaguchi and "Lion" Takeshi also make regular stops at the gym, and all of these champions and former champions train together from time to time. The gym isn't a regular home to some of the aforementioned fighters, but it is a gym that has a lot of fighters passing through and instilling their knowledge on its regular inhabitants.

Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
#2 - Taiki Tsuchiya
#3 - Mark Adams
#4 - Alan Omer
#5 - Koichiro Matsumoto
#6 - Tom Niinimaki
#7 - Marcos Vinicius
#8 - Matt Fiordirosa
#9 - Isaac DeJesus
#10 - Michel Gagnon
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray
Middleweight Light Heavyweight
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie
#1 - Marcos Pezao
#2 - Gian Villante
#3 - Jimi Manuwa
#4 - Glover Teixeira
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Scouting_report_medium

Potential: Tsuchiya's strength of record and blazing stand-up game are the sole reasons he's placing at #2 on our list. I'm aware of the fact that readers will knock him down a few notches due to the notion that his American counterparts would probably stifle his speed with takedowns and wrestling, but I'm a sucker for the swagger he brings to the ring.

A showdown with Koichiro Matsumoto would be ideal, but it's iffy whether DEEP and Shooto would actually put a fight like that together. Tsuchiya is a guy that I believe the larger promotions in Japan would like to see in the ring as he brings an exciting style to the table, but he may not be well-suited for a run in the UFC.

Video:

Taiki Tsuchiya -vs- Tony Hervey

Taiki Tsuchiya vs Hideki Kadowaki

Taiki Tsuchiya vs Masatoshi Kobayashi


Taiki Tsuchiya - Issei Tamura



Taiki Tsuchiya vs Daisuke Matsumoto

Kazuhiro Ito vs. Taiki Tsuchiya


Taiki Tsuchiya vs. Hidenori Nishino - Debut

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