Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 174 Prediction: Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka

The second fight scheduled to air on UFC Fight Pass on Saturday features TUF 14 contestant Roland Delorme battling UFC newcomer Michinori Tanaka in a bantamweight match. After watching Tanaka’s fights on tape, I’m pretty enthusiastic about his potential, but I’m a little nervous about this particular matchup. Tanaka is definitely the more talented overall fighter than Delorme, but he has some flaws in his game that Delorme is uniquely suited to potentially take advantage of.

Tanaka’s game is fairly well-rounded, but his tendency is to take his opponents to the ground, advance position, and look to finish by first softening his opponent with ground and pound and then following up with a submission hold. Tanaka enters the UFC undefeated at 9-0 with five career wins by submission, including a rear naked choke victory against current UFC bantamweight Russell Doane.

Tanaka has a very quick double-leg shot from distance and has shown a variety of trip takedowns from the clinch as well. On the ground, Tanaka is pretty consistently able to pass his opponent’s guard and unleash a series of punishing strikes. He’s also creative with his submissions as he likes to attempt triangle chokes from mounted position, defeating both Takuya Ogura and Caleb Volotton by that method.

Unlike most grapplers who enter the UFC, Tanaka is a very capable striker as well. He has a good sense of maintaining distance and is proficient at throwing punching combinations and leg kicks. Tanaka’s head movement and overall effective strike defense are not spectacular, but with his tendency to take his opponents to the ground, that aspect of his game is rarely a major factor.

So Tanaka can land strikes, he can land takedowns, and he can finish by submission. What’s not to like? Well, the problem is that Tanaka is prone to wildness, both standing and on the ground. The wildness standing is not a huge problem because Tanaka usually goes for a takedown the moment his opponent tries to capitalize on his wildness by winging haymakers. The problem comes on the ground, where Tanaka has given up a number of compromising positions in transitions. Tanaka may be entering the UFC undefeated, but not before having to escape a number of submissions from his opponents, including a fully locked rear naked choke by Crisanto Pitpitunge, from which Tanaka was saved by the bell.

(For more on Tanaka, check out Patrick Wyman’s breakdown of his game in his Searching for Future Champions series at Bloody Elbow.)

That’s a problem in a match against Roland Delorme. Delorme is a one-dimensional fighter, but the one dimension he’s very good at is submissions. Six of Delorme’s nine professional wins have come by that method, including UFC finishes by rear naked choke against Josh Ferguson and Nick Denis. If Tanaka gets too wild going for a takedown or submission and gives up his back, Delorme is the kind of fighter who could make Tanaka pay by locking in a submission hold.

That would be a shame, because Tanaka really is the better overall MMA fighter. He’s the far better striker – Delorme enters with a significant strike count of 147 to 258 – and he’s the better wrestler as well. Tanaka absolutely should be able to win this fight, and as long as he stays disciplined, he will win. I just can’t help but be a bit nervous about Tanaka’s history of getting in trouble on the ground.

Pick: Michinori Tanaka by decision

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7 responses to “UFC 174 Prediction: Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka

  1. Nick June 10, 2014 at 7:42 am

    UFC debut, travelling from Japan, against a hometown fighter in Canada… you must really like what you see in Tanaka. I need to watch some tape.

    I found these two posts on Sherdog:

    – saw his last fight. the guy is jus a strong grappler, kinda like an Okami except strikes less & looks for the submission finish more. He even said that he’s still not ready for the UFC after his last fight but I guess when the UFC calls you can’t refuse. Def a strong prospect but don’t see him becoming a fan favorite anytime soon.

    – Just as you said, he’s mainly a grappler with limited striking. As far as his grappling is concerned, his wrestling is decent but is not UFC material – at least not yet. His BJJ doesn’t seem very impressive either.

    • David Williams June 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      It’s important to consider that Tanaka is still very young in the sport (22 years old, less than four years as a professional, nine fights). I’m counting on him improving his already diverse skill set. If Tanaka never improves then I don’t see him accomplishing much in the UFC. But I think he will improve.

      As for “I’m not ready for the UFC,” that seems like something Japanese fighters like to say. Tanaka had a pretty strong performance against a current UFC fighter in Russell Doane, so I humbly disagree with Tanaka’s assessment.

  2. Nick June 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Plus according to UFC.com – Tanaka still works as a salesperson in Japan.

  3. Howard Morton June 10, 2014 at 11:57 am

    At +200 or better I would bet Tanaka.

    You said he was a salesman? What does he sell?

  4. szady June 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t think Tanaka will be at +200. I doubt he’ll be even at + money. My prediction is something about -140

  5. Howard Morton June 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Szady, will you bet Tanaka?

    • szady June 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      The thing is, that I like betting at UFC newcomers, but only at +money, because a lot of unknows they bring to the octagon. I don’t think + money in this case is going to happen, so prabobly I’ll pass. There are too many questions about this fight which Davis perfectly described. Tanaka seems like good prospect but the level of competition he fought is not that good as Delorme’s. On the other site, I’m not a hudge fan of Roland’s skills, especially striking. He obviously can catch Tanaka in an early submission, but Michinori can drive it to decision mixing striking, takedowns and submission attempts. Roland has very good BJJ and had never been submitted, so prabobly he will not tap in his next fight. Fun fight to watch – Japanaese fighter is quite similiar to Alex Caceres, who tried a lot of submission attampts in past forgeting about defensive grappling and get caught. PS. Sometimes connecting work with training isn’t good but this is not the rule. For example, what I know, Robbie Peralta have full-time job, but that doesn’t bother him to win fights. As usual – sorry for my English. 😉

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