With a long list of top-level MMA experience fighting in Japan, Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri is finally set to make his Octagon debut at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 34 from Marina Bay, Singapore.
Fighting mainly at lightweight throughout his career, Kawajiri made the cut down to featherweight four fights ago. He won all four of those bouts and brings a five-fight win streak into his UFC debut.
He was originally set to face Hacran Dias but an injury prompted untested but undefeated UFC newcomer Sean Soriano to fill the spot.
Kawajiri owns a victory over Josh Thomson, who is scheduled to face Benson Henderson for a perceived UFC lightweight title shot at UFC on Fox 10. Kawajiri brings a gaudy 32-7-2 record into the UFC. His power has been amplified at his new home of 145 pounds, and his grappling has looked impressive as well.
However, 35-year-old Kawajiri will have to prove that he can contend with the elite talent like Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, and Cub Swanson that populates UFC featherweight division. He did fail against tough lightweights Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez, and Shinya Aoki.
Is Kawajiri’s time at hand? Or will he fade like so many other Japanese MMA fighters have in recent years?
Check out a preview hyping Kawajiri’s debut in the co-main event of this Saturday’s card, courtesy of the UFC: