Legendary Japanese fighter Tatsuya Kawajiri is making his long-awaited UFC debut at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 34 from Singapore. His opponent Sean Soriano is doing the same, albeit amidst much less fanfare.
Blackzilians member Soriano stepped in as a late replacement for Kawajiri’s original opponent Hacran Dias, and now has the opportunity of a lifetime when he steps into the Octagon to face “Crusher.”
The undefeated Soriano sits at 8-0 in MMA, which might make him come off as a talented yet unproven fighter looking to make a name for himself. However, Soriano told MMA Junkie Radio that he’s piled a ton of relevant experience into his five-year MMA career, and simply hasn’t been able to get as many fights as he would have liked:
“It feels great – it’s been a long journey to get here. It’s been about five years to take me here, but it’s all worth it. 8-0 seems like a little time, but I’ve been with top teams my whole career and training with top guys my whole career. It’s nothing new to me, but I haven’t had the chance to get as many fights as I’ve wanted to.”
Soriano is right when he says he’s been training with top teams. He currently has the tutelage of MMA stars like Rashad Evans, Eddie Alvarez, and Michael Johnson at his disposal. Soriano said that Bellator FC lightweight champion Alvarez, who beat “Crusher” during the semifinal round of the 2008 DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix, has been especially helpful during his preparation to fight Kawajiri:
“He’s fought three of my teammates, so I have them going over stuff. I just take what they give me and add it to my style. But I fight a little differently than them, so I’ll just go out there and fight. Eddie Alvarez has been texting me the whole time, and he told me to enjoy the moment and live in the moment. Don’t get starstruck or caught up in the lights – it’s still a fight, so just enjoy it. This is something we get to do for a living, so I’m just going to go in there and enjoy my 15 minutes.”
Soriano seems like he has a clear focus in place, and with a top-notch team helping him gear up for the biggest fight of his life, Soriano has a chance to shock the world this Saturday.
He knows that it’s going to be the toughest test of his young career, but he’s ready for it. The calm and concise Soriano closed by simply stating that he respects the magnitude of the task laid before him:
“It’s a big challenge, of course. I didn’t hesitate when I got the call. He was fighting before I was in high school. But the new era is a more complete style of fighter, more well-based. I think it’s going to make a good matchup.”
With all of the limelight being heaped upon Kawajiri, Soriano is in a good position to focus solely on fighting rather than the media attention. Soriano is supposed to lose to “Crusher,” so it’s a win-win for the 24-year-old prospect. With a strong team and knowledge of his opponent in place, can he make a statement with a thunderous UFC debut?