UFC bantamweight Michinori Tanaka suffered the first setback of his MMA career in September at Ultimate Fight Night 52 in Saitama, Japan, dropping a split decision to Kyung Ho Kang.
But as we explained in our play-by-play here at Caged Insider, it was a “great fight that could go either way.” The bout, which was, in fact, a draw on my scorecard, was later named “Fight of the Night” by UFC officials — netting Tanaka a $50,000 bonus.
Unfortunately, much of the silver lining which graced that first loss has now been tarnished.
Today, the UFC announced that Tanaka, pictured above in his victory over Roland Delorme at UFC 174, tested positive for two banned substances in his pre-fight urinalysis in Saitama: ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
The Yokohama, Japan native admitted to taking over-the-counter medication which contained the substances and has accepted a nine-month suspension from competition.
To return, Tanaka will have to pass a test when eligible in 2015. He is also forced to return the $50,000 bonus he received for “Fight of the Night” honors against Kang.
“The UFC organization has always been a leader when it comes to testing for performance-enhancing drugs in combat sports,” the UFC statement reads. “All UFC athletes know they are subject to drug testing by an applicable state athletic commission, an international governing federation, or by an independent laboratory contracted by the UFC when no regulatory body is overseeing the event. In those cases where regulatory oversight is unavailable, UFC voluntarily chooses to adhere to the highest level of athlete health and safety protocols similar to if the event were being held in the state of Nevada.”
Tanaka is seen as one of MMA’s best young bantamweights. Prior to his loss to Kang, he defeated Roland Delorme at UFC 174 in Canada, and Russell Doane at PXC 34 in Quezon City, Philippines.