The UFC’s flyweight division continues to get more exciting with the addition of several young, undefeated prospects. He will be making his UFC Vegas 54 debut in the Octagon this Saturday, Tatsuro Taaira.
Taira is a former Shooto flyweight champion and will be facing fellow debutant Carlos Candelario at APEX. The 22-year-old holds a perfect 10-0 pro record with eight finishes and is already being put in the same discussion as blue-chipper Muhammad Mokaev, who stopped Cody Durden in under a minute at UFC London this past month.
When asked whether Taira’s debut would have a greater impact, Taira said that it will. However, he was still blown away at the IMMAF four-time gold medalist.
“Yeah, of course [my debut will be better],” Taira told MMA Fighting through a translator.
“I was really impressed with his debut [however]. I just thought, ‘Wow, he is so strong.’ That was my impression of him.”
Candelario is looking to rebound from his first professional loss, which was a split against Victor Altamirano in Dana White’s Contender Series. This fight took place this August. The UFC president won the fight for Candelario. He also offered him a UFC deal despite that decision. After earning a unanimous decision win on the Contender Series in August 2017, “The Cannon” dealt with a litany of injuries that kept him out of action for four years, leading to a decision win at CES 63 — less than a month before his second DWCS appearance.
For Taira, he knows he will have his hands full with the gritty New Englander, but also believes that the fight won’t hit the judges’ scorecards.
“I saw the Contender Series fights, and I was impressed by his aggressiveness,” Taira said. “I need to be very careful but I will push back and fight back every time.
” Currently, I am emerging [as a fighter]. I will finish him in round one. This is the first, but [if that doesn’t happen], I will finish him in round .”
Taira certainly isn’t looking past Candelario, but he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t thinking about the future — including a prediction that he will be a UFC world champion by the age of 25.
The Japanese star knows that a fight against fellow upstart Mokaev will happen, and he’ll be prepared.
“I don’t mind the when, or timing that [I would fight Mokaev],” Taira said. “My feeling is that I have to keep fighting, keep improving, and eventually I’ll have a fight with him and everyone in the rankings.”