It looks like famed Japanese fighter Tatsuya Kawajiri will have to wait to make his anticipated UFC debut. Kawajiri was set to face Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 34 in Singapore, but Dias had been forced to withdraw with an injury suffered in training, according to MMA Junkie.
A search has begun to find a suitable replacement for Kawajiri on the Jan. 4th card, but no names have been mentioned as of yet. UFC Fight Night is headlined by a Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim welterweight bout. Jake Ellenberger was originally slated to face former Strikeforce 170 lb. champ Saffiedine but injuries also got the best of him.
Kawajiri fought for many years at lightweight but is making the move down to featherweight for his first foray in the UFC. He’s spent most of his career fighting in Asia. The main memory that American audiences will have of Kawajiri is his one-sided TKO loss to Gilbert Melendez under the Strikeforce banner.
However, the former Shooto World Welterweight (154 lbs.) champion has righted the ship quite impressively, defeating five straight opponents in DREAM and One FC, with three submissions and one technical knockout. Kawajiri sports a gaudy 32-7-2 record and will be looking to find a spot in the already crowded UFC featherweight arena.
Unfortunately Japanese MMA has taken a big step backwards in recent years. Kawajiri is one of their last remaining prominent fighters. Featherweight is literally populated with a murderer’s row at 145 lbs., so Kawajiri undoubtedly has his hands full.
Kawajiri should have a big power advantage after fighting at 155 lbs. for so long. His grappling has looked to be at an elite level lately, as well. Will “Crusher” make a big impact in his new weight class in Singapore, or will he fail in his latest bid under a major promotion?