UFC Fight Night 52 Play: Kyung Ho Kang (+145) vs Michinori Tanaka (-165)

Michinori-TanakaUFC Fight Night 52 Date: September 20, 2014 Arena: Saitama Super Arena City: Saitama, Japan Bantamweight bout: Kyung Ho Kang (+145) vs Michinori Tanaka (-165) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 52 preliminary card on UFC Fight Pass will be featuring a 135-pound scrap between Korea’s Kyung Ho Kang and Japan’s Michinori Tanaka. The Korean is the underdog heading into this fight at +145 ($100 to win $145) and the hometown favorite is indeed the betting favorite to win at -165 ($165 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Kyung Ho Kang (12-7-1 NC, 1-1-1 NC UFC) is coming off a third round arm-triangle submission victory over promotional newcomer Shunichi Shimizu, who was released after his loss, even though he was stepping up from flyweight to bantamweight for the match-up. It was a complete mismatch, as not only Kang had a size advantage, but was also the superior fighter. After a controversial split decision loss to Chico Camus in Camus’ hometown of Milwaukee, the Korean has returned to the win column and will be looking to make it two in a row inside the Octagon when he squares off against the undefeated Japanese 23-year old in Michinori Tanaka. Kang is a talented fighter who is much better than his professional mixed martial arts record of 12-7-1 NC indicates. He is a great grappler who possesses solid takedowns and makes excellent transitions on the mat. He is dominant from top position, as he is a threat with submissions and loves to nail down powerful shots; he is a dangerous opponent to have in your guard. The 27-year old also has decent judo skills and holds his own in the striking department, to boot. Kang is one of the lighter-weight training partners of Korea’s UFC welterweight, “Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim. He has been dropped several times and knocked out once, but generally has a decent chin. Kang enjoys a fast pace and has the cardio to compliment it, so I expect him to be ready for three rounds of action against Tanaka, should the fight go the distance. Michinori Tanaka (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made his promotional debut three months ago on the preliminary card for UFC 174, taking on Roland Delorme and defeating the Canadian via Unanimous Decision with a 30-27 score on all three judges’ scorecards. The win kept him undefeated at 10 straight, including a very impressive third round rear naked choke victory over current UFC bantamweight Russell Doane, which came on the regional circuit two years ago. Heading into his second Octagon appearance against the three-time Octagon veteran in Kang, Tanaka will be looking to extend his undefeated winning streak to 11. The native of Japan is a very talented grappler, and is physically very strong. His takedowns are solid, both traditional and judo; he owns a black belt in judo and the heavy hips that come with it, which play a factor in his tremendous base and takedown defense. His submission defense is excellent as well. The 23-year old’s top control on the mat is outstanding, as he is quite dominant from the position. He works some good ground and pound, though he’s not very heavy on the volume. Tanaka is very scrappy on the mat, often working his way to top/dominant position, when initially finding himself on his back. Though he is good at getting off his back and into superior position, he does not mind being there, as his favorite submission is the triangle choke. He is well-versed in the submission game, owning 50 percent of his professional mixed martial arts career victories by way of tapout. The 23-year old has good footwork and moves around the cage really well. He uses a lot of movement on the feet, which often throws his opponents off, a la Clay Guida. However, while he uses a lot of movement on the feet, he is not very active with his offensive striking attack. He does not throw in volume, but when he connects, he makes it count. He packs a heavy right hand, and puts together some solid 1-2 combinations, as well. Tanaka is a well-conditioned athlete who likes to keep going, so I expect him to be ready to go hard for a full 15-minutes of action, should the fight reach the judges’ scorecards for a decision. Gabe’s Thoughts: Tanaka will be at a size disadvantage heading into this bout, as he could potentially be a 125-pounder, but I don’t think that will cost him this fight. I think it may actually benefit him, as he would also be the quicker of the two. He could have a solid future in the UFC’s flyweight division when he eventually steps down, but I don’t think Kang, while a solid fighter, is going to be the one to send him there. I think he will need to reach the upper-echelon of the bantamweight division before that begins to play a concern. This is a scrap between a pair of talented grapplers, but I think the superior grappler will win, and in my opinion, that is Tanaka. I could see him submitting Kang, but I think a decision is more likely, as Kang is not easy to put away. Gabe’s Call: Tanaka by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Michinori Tanaka (-160) 6.6u to win 4u

Written by Gabe Killian

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