UFC Signs Japanese Bantamweight Prospect Michinori Tanaka

Sean SmithAnalyst IFebruary 5, 2014

The UFC Championship belt is displayed during the news conference after the UFC 162 mixed martial arts bouts Saturday, July 6, 2013, in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/David Becker)
Associated Press

On the heels of a Renan Barao win over Urijah Faber, the UFC has bolstered its bantamweight roster by adding promising Japanese prospect Michinori Tanaka.

The 23-year-old announced his signing via Twitter:

もう1つは、アマチュアの頃からの僕の目標である、世界一の総合格闘技団体 @ufc との契約を結びました。 当然ベルトを狙います。もちろん今の自分じゃ力不足だということもわかっています。ただ、自分が弱いことをわかっているからこそ、これからまだまだ強くなれる自信もあるんです。

— Michinori Tanaka (@Pnori_Pnori) February 3, 2014

As translated by BloodyElbow.com, Tanaka's statement read:

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.

Undefeated in nine MMA bouts, Tanaka most recently defended his Pacific Xtreme Combat bantamweight title against Kyle Aguon. Also a Shooto veteran, he owns a win over Russell Doane, who recently debuted in the Octagon with a submission win over Leandro Issa.

At Reversal Gym in Japan, Tanaka trains with the likes of Shooto veteran and current One FC flyweight Shinichi Kojima. He has also spent some time with Team Alpha Male, and it would no doubt help his development to continue working with that camp.

Having secured a rear-naked choke on Doane in his first PXC appearance, Tanaka is most dangerous on the ground. Five of the Japanese bantamweight's nine victories have come via submission.

His first UFC bout has not been announced. However, there are many options available to the UFC newcomer.

Ideally, he'd be matched up with a fellow grappler, which would give him a chance to display his ground skills. Johnny Bedford and Yaotzin Meza would both be logical opponents to welcome Tanaka to the Octagon soon.