Arguably the best hope of competing in the On the way to the UFC series, Nakamura, 27, is a former World Under-23 freestyle wrestling champion who has made a smooth transition to mixed martial arts.
Going into the bantamweight tournament with a 4-0 mark, Nakamura picked up first-round stoppage wins over Gugun Gusman and Shohei Nose to advance to the finals, where he faces fellow Japanese prospect Toshiomi Kazama. While others in the tournament have had more dramatic victories, Nakamura’s dominating efforts so far have a different feel – something almost unavoidable in the way he’s been able to control opponents, get to his places , then quickly secure the finishes.
The Road to the UFC Finals: What You Need to Know
And now here’s the crazy part: he didn’t make his professional MMA debut until May 2021.
In less than two years, Nakamura has gone from a neophyte to a promising rising prospect on the verge of joining the UFC roster, and while the bantamweight ranks are teeming with talent, he could be an intriguing addition to the fold. he is able to pass Kazama.
After picking up an upset victory over veteran Maiaituoheti Keremuaili in the quarter-finals of the 135-pound competition, Kazama advanced to the final match when his semi-final opponent Min Woo Kim missed weight, which resulted in the cancellation of the bout. A Brazilian jiu jitsu stylist, the 25-year-old is 10-2 overall and may urge Nakamura to be a little more cautious when looking to take this fight to the canvas on Saturday.
Featherweight finalist JeongYeong Lee has charted the most destructive path so far in the On the way to the UFC tournaments, picking up a pair of quick first-round wins, but Nakamura stands out as the best prospect in the finalist crop, and someone who could make an easy transition to competing at the highest level.
There has been a lot of talk over the past two weeks in regards to the future of the flyweight division, with Brandon Moreno ascending to the throne for the second time and former champ Deiveson Figueiredo announcing his plans to move to the bantamweight ranks.
While there are some obvious names at the forefront when it comes to immediate title contenders and potential contenders, Taira is someone to keep in mind in the long run, even if he could make a move towards the Top 15 this year.