Interviews

Michinori Tanaka – Japan’s young rising star

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Undefeated Michinori Tanaka (9-0) will face Roland Delorme (9-2) at UFC 174 in Vancouver, Canada, this weekend on June 14th. At twenty three years old, he began his journey into MMA with Judo. “The first time I saw MMA on TV, it was PRIDE! Lots of Japanese Judo players were fighting, and I thought, ‘Wow, Judo players are strong.’ So I joined my middle school’s Judo club when I was fourteen years old. I started MMA when I left the Judo club after graduation, at eighteen.”

Michinori Tanaka – Japan’s young rising star

Tanaka won a SHOOTO rookie tournament in 2011, and now holds the Pacific Xtreme Combat title belt, which he since defended once. This attracted the attention of the UFC. “Fighting in the UFC has been my goal since my amateur days,” Tanaka said. “Getting the title belt is my eventual goal, so I feel like I’ve finally come to stand on the starting line.”

Like most fighters, he works a part-time job to support himself, but hopes he’ll be able to quit after fighting in the UFC.
What does he like best about MMA?

“There are always new techniques coming, one after the other, non-stop. There’s no end! It’s interesting,” Tanaka said. “It’s really fun fighting in front of a lot of people, and having their support and cheers. I want to keep the action going, so the audience doesn’t get tired and bored. I want to win impressively, to leave an impression on the fans!”

Michinori recently spent some time at Team Alpha Male, where he experienced a training style different than that of Japan. “I feel that Japanese pro MMA fighters do mostly sparring,” he reflected. “However, at Alpha Male, it’s important for them to practice wrestling, boxing, etc., separately. They do a lot of drilling. I brought that back with me to Japan and incorporated that into my training regimen.”

After researching his opponent Roland Delorme , he commented that he has a long reach and comes forward aggressively. Also, he’s tenacious on the ground. “Lately I’ve been increasing my striking training,” Tanaka said. “Also, I’m putting even more effort into my wrestling and jiu-jitsu.”

When he’s not training, he attends MMA events to watch his training partners’ fights. “If there’s no event, I often go mountain climbing, and try to surround myself with nature,” he said. “I also love movies and music.”

“I’m a scatterbrain so people around me are always helping me out. I’m here because of the people in my life,” Tanaka said. “I want to win also as a repayment of their kindness.”

His fight is set as an early prelim shown on Fightpass at 7 PM ET/ 4 PM PT.

“I would be very happy if fans remember my name. I’m sure in two years I’ll be a top UFC fighter!”

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1,408 comments

  • Charlie J says:

    Nice article Roxanne! I’m excited to see his UFC debut. My brother and I are big fans of yours after seeing how awesome of a person you are on The Ultimate Fighter. Keep up the good work and hope to see more cool interviews from you. Cheers!

  • toddlandsing says:

    Keep up the great work Roxanne!

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