Tatsuro Taira had expected to make his UFC debut two weeks ago. But the bout was postponed at the very last minute when opponent Carlos Candelario fell sick.

Taira has already made weight when the fight was called off. He will finally face Cadelario this weekend at UFC Vegas 54. He says the postponement was a mixed blessing.

On the one hand it has allowed him to get in an extra two weeks training ahead of his UFC debut,

“I’m happy to come back and I’m really thankful the first fight was cancelled because I got two weeks delay and I had more time to train and get ready. I want to really put my maximum ‘feeling’ into the next fight.”

Massive inconvenience

But on the other hand it was a massive inconvenience for everyone in Taira’s entourage as well as leaving his fans in Japan disappointed,

“The fight was cancelled and I felt really bad because the cornerman came and also my parents came from Japan and also the Japanese fans who woke up early and were looking forward to my fight so I feel sorry for them.”

The good news is that he didn’t have to wait too long to find out when he would be fighting next. The bout with Candelario was immediately rearranged for UFC Vegas 54, the same opponent in the same venue with a two week delay.

Fight and win

Taira successfully made weight for the second time earlier today, coming in at 125lbs. His opponent initially missed weight by 0.5lbs bit eventually tipped the scales at 126lbs.

The Japanese fighter says he has made the most of the unexpected opportunity to train in Las Vegas for two weeks,

“For the last two weeks, I really want to win, so my coach and I have a strategy and a plan to fight and win.”

High expectations

He brings a 10-0 record into this fight and has victories over some experienced fighters. Taira has beaten the likes of Ryuya Fukuda, Yoshiro Maeda and Kiyotaka Shimizu.

In the process he capture the Shooto flyweight title. But Taira says he has always believed that the UFC would not sign him unless he had a perfect professional record.

So every single time Taira has stepped into the cage in Japan he says this has been in the back of his mind. That a loss would leave his UFC dreams in tatters,

“I always thought if I lose any fight in Japan I won’t have a chance to go to the UFC so I think I am really lucky and everyone has expectations of me. It is a great responsibility and I want to fulfill their expectations.”

Levelling up

Taira knows that the level of opposition is likely to get stronger now that he is in the UFC.  But he is confident he can make the necessary adjustments.

The 22 year old thinks that the two weeks has spent at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas will help him so just that. He is determined to show he can be an even better fighter than the one who won ten fights out of ten in Japan,

“I know that lots of UFC fighters are much stronger but I’m going to brush up my skills and I’m going to exceed expectations and perform better than I have so far.”