June has been a very good month for ONE FC, the first ever show to take place in Malaysia sold out the Stadium Negara, an August event at the 16,500 capacity Araneta Coliseum was announced and they have added two of the most sought after free agents on the MMA market to the roster in Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes.
According to MMA Japan, which has a good track record when it come to breaking ONE FC related stories, another of the top fighters from DREAM, Tatsuya Kawajiri, is also close to putting pen to paper. The Japanese featherweight had already appeared once for the promotion, defeating Donald Sanchez at ONE FC: 'War of the Lions', but he is now reportedly on the verge of signing an exclusive contract.
Kawajiri is widely regarded as being a top ten featherweight and some websites have him as high as top five. He would have been an excellent addition to the UFC roster and a candidate for an immediate title shot but ONE FC appear to have won the race for his signature.
There has been a dramatic shift in the MMA landscape recently and Fernandes, who turned down a contract offer from the UFC to sign with ONE FC, referred to it in an interview with Tatame when he said, 'It can be many people’s dream to fight in the UFC, but it ain’t mine.'
Up until recently the UFC was widely regarded as being 'The Superbowl of MMA" and the only destination for an ambitious fighter but the emergence of ONE FC has changed all that. Now there are two superpowers, ONE FC in the East and the UFC in the West, and a number of top fighters are choosing to sign with the former.
Kawajiri is riding a four fight win streak since losing to Gilbert Melendez in a lightweight title fight at Strikeforce. He will an early contender for the ONE FC featherweight title and one potential opponent would be Eric Kelly, the 7-0 URCC featherweight champion, although DEEP and DREAM fighters such as Hiroyuki Takaya, Takeshi Inoue and Doo Ho Choi might also be available to ONE FC matchmakers
Assuming the reports are accurate and he is about to sign for ONE FC it seems likely he will make his debut on October 2nd when the Singapore Indoor Stadium will supposedly be opened up to its full 12,000 capacity. Aoki and Fernandes will both be making their debuts at ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation' which is taking place in the Philippines on August 31st.