Tatsuro Taira passed a significant career milestone when he clinched his first world title at Shooto 0701.  The 21-year-old submitted Ryuya Fukuda in the first round to extend his unbeaten record to 9-0 and win the flyweight strap.

Having had a month to let the achievement sink in the Japanese star sounds like he is taking it all in his stride,

“(I’m) not too bad, I’m happy that I got the belt.”

Taira prefers not to dwell on his previous achievements and says he is always focused on what, or who, is next,

“I usually don’t care about how many fight’s winning streak (I am on) because I always focus on the opponent who is in front of me now. But when I look back at my career I feel that things  are going too well.”

Keisuke Takazawa / Fightgraph

Exciting prospect

You don’t win nine fights in a row by luck and Taira feels he has earned his status as the most exciting prospect in Japan,

“It is no coincidence that I keep winning. I am satisfied with my career but I believe that now is when the real competition begins.”

The newly crowned champion admitted that a step up to bantamweight is a likely move in the future, but sees his flyweight win over Fukuda as the most important moment of his career so far.

“Of course, I am most proud of my las fight because I won the Shooto world championship and could fight against Fukuda who I look up to,” he said.

Keisuke Takazawa / Fightgraph

Undefeated contender

While Taira could be forgiven for looking beyond Shooto as he plans the next phase of his career he picks out an undefeated contender from the promotion’s flyweight ranks who could be next in line,

“If I have a fight to defend my belt, the opponent should be Yuto Uda. Because as you can see our ranking, he’s the top ranker,” he added.

Taira was introduced to the sport by an older brother. He has the MMA world at his feet and says he takes inspiration from a figure slightly further from home,

“I like Max Holloway. Because his fight is very exciting and I like his Hawaiian personality. I am from Okinawa so I feel I have similar vibes to him,” said Taira.

Keisuke Takazawa / Fightgraph

Proud representative

While bigger things presumably await Taira he is a proud representative of Shooto and says he will always be grateful to the promotion which gave him his break,

“From amateur to today, I have been fighting at Shooto. I really grateful Shooto. I want to give back to them with my fights and my wins. I am The Shooter!”