Tatsuro Taira - UFC

Japan’s biggest prospect returns to the octagon. Tatsuro Taira, the former Shooto Flyweight champion, has earned a UFC record of 4-0 and a total undefeated pro record of 14-0.

His next challenge comes in the form of Carlos Hernandez, a Contender Series alumni with a UFC record of 2-1. In his previous bout, defeating Denys Bondar in June, Hernandez cemented himself as one of the very best boxers in the flyweight division and an up-and-comer to keep an eye on.

Taira vs. Hernandez Odds

Carlos Hernandez comes in as the significant underdog at +350. That means for every $100 wagered, $350 can be won given an upset.

Taira vs. Hernandez Breakdown

Carlos Hernandez has a very good jiu jitsu and grappling base. However in his most recent performances, it’s really been his boxing prowess that has made him stand out. He is a conventional fighter who utilizes a lot of lateral movement and switches his stance to do so. However, all of his best entries and combinations do come when his left foot is in front. He will shift in and out very well, feinting constantly, looking to draw out his opponent and then land counter combinations.

Typically, Hernandez is looking to slip and throw either the right cross or uppercut and lands three or four quick punches at a time, finishing his combinations with his lead hand so that he can fade off. He is exceptional at working his hooks around the guard when his opponents look to shell.

For Tatsuro Taira, when striking this means he has to avoid a straight boxing clash. Taira is the longer and taller figure and it would aid him to kick his way in, especially low kicks. Hernandez stands heavy on the lead in order to work his head movement, so working his way in with the left inside low kick to set up his punches is something Taira may consider. Taira fought Edgar Chairez last, who likewise specializes in boxing, and Taira had tremendous success early bursting in with long power right kicks to the leg, however he does need to be careful to get off the centreline with his head when he does so as not to get clipped.

It would also be smart for Taira to end his combinations with the lead left body kick, as Hernandez keeps a high guard and if thrown from a distance makes it more difficult to land his counters.

Taira’s ultimate goal will to be getting the takedown and dominating on the mat. Hernandez is a very capable jiu jitsu practitioner himself but giving up his back is where he has especially struggled at times. His initial takedown defence is also questionable, however he is solid at building back up to his feet the moment he feels his hip touch the mat. Hernandez is quick to establish a whizzer and walk his legs out and around behind him so as to rise into a clinch. Taira needs to find a way to not only drag Hernandez down but put him into a position where he has control of the legs from the initial go. Taira can do this by either maintaining control over Hernandez’s legs with his upper body as he tries to pass right to side control or the back, or Taira can look to collapse into a position where his hips are already passed Hernandez’s knees.

Avoiding takedowns like single legs which do not completely control the hips should be on Taira’s mind, instead favouring clamp double legs, or simply working to take Hernandez down from a back clinch and avoiding the hips and Hernandez’s takedown defence all together. Taira is known for his patient and slow grappling method with a focus on working methodically from closed to half guard to mount or the back, this has earned some criticism for lack of finishes but against Hernandez it’s important so as to not risk position for over aggressive moves.

Taira vs. Hernandez Prediction

Tatsuro Taira should win this fight, as evident by the odds. He is one of the best grapplers in the division, especially on the back which is where Hernandez has shown some holes. It will be a problem of balancing his output, getting to the takedowns quickly enough to secure the rounds and allow himself enough time to work, but not being so overly aggressive that he is drawn into a fire fight with Hernandez.

Taira may take some confidence in the fact that Hernandez does not have any KO/TKO wins on his record and doesn’t have the most punching power, however his quickness and ability to land combinations constantly means it’s easy to lose a contest of quantity if boxing him. At -600 Taira on his own is not a strong value, however it’s fair odds and best would be to utilize him as a parlay booster.

Pick: Tatsuro Taira to win (-600) as a parlay boost

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