Report: Japanese featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri signs with UFC, eyes Jan. 4 debut in Singapore

Esther Lin for Strikeforce

Guess who's coming to dinner!

Longtime Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri is headed back to the cage.

After a decade-long reign of terror on the international circuit, which included successful runs under the SHOOTO and PRIDE FC banner, among others, Kawajiri (32-7) has inked a new contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), according to a report from MMA Junkie (via MMA Fighting).

"Crusher" is expected to debut as a featherweight at the upcoming Singapore event on Jan. 4, 2014.

The former lightweight is no stranger to stateside promotions, having first dipped his toe into U.S. waters under the Strikeforce banner in early 2011. As part of a talent-sharing agreement with DREAM, Kawajiri tried to make a statement against Gilbert Melendez in San Diego.

He made one, just not the one he was looking for.

"El Nino" blew him out of the water in the opening frame of their rematch during the "Diaz vs. Daley" event on Showtime (video); however, Kawajiri did not spend much time licking his wounds. He returned to DREAM and rebounded with a first-round ass kicking over Drew Fickett, then dropped to 145 pounds and rattled off four straight wins with three submissions.

He's back. But is he better than ever?

He may need to be, considering how deep the UFC featherweight division has become. In addition, "Crusher" is already 35 years old, so the clock is ticking on his combat sports career. I'm sure most fans would have loved to see him come on board a bit earlier in his career but hey, better late than never.

Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more information on his official debut, including a potential opponent, as it becomes available.


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