Michinori Tanaka has been on everyone's top prospect lists for a while now. This talented Japanese prospect first made waves as the Shooto Rookie Champion in 2011, and he continued his unbeaten streak while ruling the PXC bantamweight division with impressive wins over Crisanto Pitpitunge and Russell Doane.
Although everyone knew it was only a matter of time before this 9-0 rising star eventually stepped in the big leagues, their plan late last year was to get a few more fights under his belt before making the jump. His manager talked about it during the new year, telling Bloody Elbow that both Tanaka and fellow prospect Yuta Sasaki planned "to get even better first" before the UFC, but it looks like things drastically changed in the weeks after.
His management has now announced that Tanaka has joined the UFC, with the fighter also talking about the signing on twitter. Here's a rough translation of this thoughts:
"I have signed a contract with the world's best Mixed Martial Arts promotion, the UFC, which I have aimed for since I was an amateur."
"Naturally, I am aiming for the belt, but I also understand that I still have some inadequacies now. However, I am confident that I will be stronger simply because I understand that I am also weak."
The talented and humble fighter also addressed these improvements he wanted to make by deciding to move his training camps. Although he has had high quality training partners on the past few years, such as Shinichi Kojima, Caol Uno, Michihiro Omigawa, and Kyoji Horiguchi, a fresh outlook could help the promising 23-year-old develop even more. No new camps have been announced as of yet, but it is interesting to note that Tanaka has spent a few weeks training with the guys at Team Alpha Male in the past.
A date or an opponent for his UFC debut has yet to be named as of this writing, but stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates as it becomes available.
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