The 23-year-old Okinawan has been dominant since entering MMA, winning all his 14 fights so far - all but three of them inside the distance - and capturing the Shooto flyweight title along the way. In the Octagon specifically, he has been no less impressive.
He began his tenure in May 2022 with a dominant unanimous decision over Carlos Candelario at UFC Vegas 54. That was followed by consecutive bonus-winning armbars against CJ Vergara and Jesus Santos Aguilar. And last time out, he swept the scorecards against Edgar Chairez at UFC 290, his first time on a PPV card.
It is no secret that Japan has been having a massive slump of elite UFC talent ever since Kyoji Horiguchi left the promotion in 2017. Strawweights Mizuki Inoue and Kanako Murata were each initially thought to be future stars when they first came on board from highly successful spells in Invicta; but injuries and long layoffs derailed their momentum, and the latter was even released after dropping a very controversial decision to Vanessa Demopoulos that many believed she won.
However, Taira could change that narrative with another stellar showing against Carlos Hernandez.
Carlos Hernandez looking for the upset at UFC Vegas 83
On the other side of the cage, Hernandez has been off to a decent, if unremarkable, start.
First signed by the UFC after winning his Dana White's Contender Series bout in 2021, he has gone 2-1, sandwiching decision triumphs against Victor Altamirano and Denys Bondar between a submission defeat to Allan Nascimento.
He will certainly be the underdog against a heavily-hyped prospect like Taira; but should he win, it will be his second straight, giving himself much momentum.