While Yoshida's eight-fight win streak and the names contained in it are validating enough, much of the interest surrounding his UFC debut comes from his cage savvy. Many international fighters, especially Japanese fighters, have struggled to grasp the nuances of the unified rules find success in the cage when making the jump into the Octagon. However, Yoshida may be the greatest success story of GCM's Cage Force initiative, which seeks to prepare and ready international fighters for the rigors of the cage. "Zenko" has shown the ability to adapt his grappling skills to the cage, dominating in the clinch, and utilizing devastating elbows in a fashion unusual from Japanese fighters with little experience in the cage.
What is more, Yoshida has perfected his cage-friendly tactics without actually training in a cage. Splitting his time between Yoshida Dojo alongside Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Ryo Chonan, and Tokyo Yellow Mans under the tutelage of Shooto legend Noboru Asahi, Yoshida is forced to use only the matted walls to replicate the cage.
The difference between fighting in a cage and fighting in a ring at the elite level cannot be understated. With excellent defensive skills, great ground and pound and explosive athleticism, Yoshida's familiarity with cage tactics make him a handful for anyone at 170lbs. War Machine: be prepared.