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Tatsuro Taira Honors Grandfather's Legacy in UFC Fight Night Headliner, on Saturday June 15

Tatsuro Taira
Black Belt Plus

When Tatsuro Taira headlines his first UFC event against Alex Perez at the APEX in Las Vegas, his biggest fan won’t be in attendance. Yet despite his grandfather's recent passing, the Japanese flyweight contender will fight to honor his hero.

“When I was asked my hero, I answered my grandfather and he definitely would be happy if I win my fight,” said Taira. “(Before) When I would say to him that I'm going to go to the U.S., he didn’t ask about a win or loss, he just told me to come back healthy.”

Taira has made the transition from local hero to international star, with four of his five UFC fights taking place at the APEX. The unbeaten (15-0) 24-year-old, ranked 13th in the 125-pound weight class, faces a significant step up in competition against former world title challenger Perez, who sits at number five.

Taira's calm determination and evolving skillset have impressed thus far. "The reason why no one can beat me at flyweight is because they don't know what my strongest thing is,” he said. A win over Perez would solidify his position among the flyweight elite.

“For this main event, I will make my statement to finish and do anything to win,” he said. “That’s the main mission.”

Taira has already achieved his most important goal: making his grandfather proud. “My grandfather really cared for me, especially for my health,” said Taira. “He didn't mention winning or losing, but I heard he would talk about me to the neighbors: ‘He's my grandchild and he's a UFC fighter. I’m really proud of him.’ He didn’t speak so much, but he spoke things about me really loud, so that makes me happy.”

Don't miss UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira, live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prelims start at 7pm ET/4pm PT, main card at 10pm ET/7pm PT.

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