The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been stacking its roster with Asian MMA talents of late, the latest of which is none other than unbeaten PXC Bantamweight champ, Michinori Tanaka (9-0).
Suckerpunch Entertainment first confirmed the signing on its Facebook page.
Tanaka, 23, follows the footsteps of fellow PXC graduates Jon Tuck, Hyun Gyu Lim and Jon delos Reyes among others, to have inked a deal with the world’s largest fight promotion. Tanaka is expected to vacate his PXC 135-lbs belt as well, as he makes his move to the octagon.
A staple of Shooto, the Japanese fighter won the promotion Rookie Tournament Championship crown in 2011, before linking up with the PXC ranks a year later. He made his promotional debut at PXC 34, submitting current UFC fighter Russell Doane with a third round Rear-Naked Choke.
But as the hype grew on the young Japanese talent, lots of expectations were thrown at Tanaka to see if he was indeed the real deal. And suffice to say, the 23-year-old lived up to the bill rather impressively and continued to awe both the Asian and Filipino masses.
After a second round submission victory at PXC 36 over a tough Caleb Vallotton, Tanaka was offered the chance to fight for the 135-lbs strap against then champ, Team Lakay’s Crisanto Pitpitunge.
Tanaka outpointed Pitpitunge for five rounds with precise takedowns and top control en route to claiming the championship belt. He then made his first title defense in Guam against Kyle Aguon, in what was to be one of PXC’s “Fight of the Year” candidates.
Tanaka now joins a stacked UFC Bantamweight roster that is currently dominated by reigning champ Renan Barao.
The Japanese starlet is expected to make his UFC debut before the summer.
Photo credit: Ritrato Zilvidu