One of the top Japanese fighters in the world has finally signed on the dotted line and joined the UFC, according to Matt Erickson and Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com.
Tatsuya Kawajiri, a veteran of Dream, One FC and Strikeforce, is considered one of the top featherweights in the world despite not being in the UFC. Since dropping to 145, "Crusher" is undefeated at 4-0 against tough opposition.
Kawajiri may be best known to the American audience for his one-fight stint in Strikeforce, although it was at lightweight. He was savagely knocked out by Gilbert Melendez, which effectively closed the book on the Japanese star.
However, recent times have boosted his stock, and he is 5-0 since that loss to Melendez.
He bested Drew Fickett in his final lightweight bout before dropping to the more natural weight class of 145. From there, he tapped out Joachim Hansen, Kazuyuki Miyata and Donald Sanchez and earned a convincing decision over UFC veteran Michihiro Omigawa.
Kawajiri is a strong featherweight with well-rounded skills. He can knock people out, but he has opted to ground his opponents and force them to tap out with his increasingly threatening submission ability as of late.
One has to think he will be in the thick of things right from the start. He has the resume and fighting ability to warrant a top-20 opponent in his debut.
Japanese fighters generally have not performed well with the UFC, but Kawajiri has the potential to be a staple with the company. He is one of the best featherweights in the game today and is well-rounded enough to be competitive wherever a fight goes.
This is a huge signing, as Kawajiri could have been a key component to the quickly rising One FC. Instead, he bolsters a division in the UFC that is quickly becoming one of the most crowded with talent.
The UFC has not officially announced a fight for Kawajiri, but it is likely going to happen on the Singapore card on Jan. 4.
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