UFC Fight Night 95 Play: Rani Yahya (-135) vs Michinori Tanaka (+115)

Michinori-TanakaUFC Fight Night 95: Cyborg vs Lansberg Date: September 24, 2016 Arena: Nilson Nelson Gymnasium City: Brasilia, Brazil Bantamweight bout: Rani Yahya (-135) vs Michinori Tanaka (+115) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 95 prelims on FOX Sports 1 will be featuring a bantamweight contest between Brazil’s own Rani Yahya and Japan’s Michinori Tanaka. Yahya is a slight -135 ($135 to win $100 betting favorite heading into the contest, with Tanaka being a small +115 ($100 to win $115) underdog at Several Bookmakers. Rani Yahya (22-8-1 NC MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) is coming off an impressive third round triangle choke submission victory over then-undefeated promotional newcomer Matthew Lopez and currently enjoys a three fight winning streak inside the Octagon, which he will be looking to extend to four heading into this bout against Tanaka. The 32 year old’s striking is average at best, but he keeps making improvements in the department. He has a nice lead left and puts together some decent combinations, though he has limited head movement, is flat-footed and does not move very well on the feet. The Brazilian does not do a great job of setting up his takedowns, as he tends to telegraph them. His game plan going into every fight is to get it to the ground, where he can implement his top level submission game. Yahya is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so it goes without saying that he is incredibly talented on the mat, as is also evident by the fact that 15 of his 19 professional mixed martial arts career victories have come by way of tapout. The seven-fight UFC veteran has great strength and dominant top control, even against larger opponents. He makes excellent transitions on the mat, and advances positions really well, ultimately setting up and securing a submission; usually a choke. His conditioning can be hit or miss but in any case I think he will have enough in the tank to pull through a 15-minute affair against Tanaka, should this fight hit the judges’ scorecards for a decision. Michinori Tanaka (19-9-1 NC MMA, 3-6-1 UFC) last saw action at UFC 195 more than eight months ago, where he picked up a razor thin split decision over Joe Soto in a very competitive and entertaining match-up. The win followed a controversial split decision loss to Kyung Ho Kang in his promotional debut, which marked the first official defeat of Tanaka’s professional mixed martial arts career. Heading into this bout against the Brazilian, he aims to string together two in a row and make noise in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The native of Japan is a talented grappler who is physically very strong. His takedowns are solid, both traditional and judo; he owns a black belt in judo and has heavy hips, which play a factor in his great base and takedown defense. His submission defense is excellent as well. The 25 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 pretty 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 nearly half of his professional mixed martial arts career victories by way of tapout. The 25 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, 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 two-strike 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 heading into this contest against Yahya, where he should have somewhat of a cardio advantage. Gabe’s Call: Tanaka by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Thoughts: I think the grappling exchanges in this bout will be close but due to Tanaka’s strong base and takedown defense, I give him a slight edge there. Along with the edge in cardio, I also give the Japanese fighter the edge on the feet in this bout. I think he is the more likely fighter to finish this fight, as he does possess some power in his hands. His submission defense is very good, so I don’t like Yahya’s chances of finishing him, despite the fact that Yahya is a submission ace. This should be a fun fight in the UFC’s bantamweight division, and at +115, I like Tanaka for a value play in this bout, as I think he should be slightly favored heading in. Gabe’s Recommended Play: Tanaka (+115) 2u to win 2.3u

Written by Gabe Killian

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