When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) signed longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri to bolster its featherweight division, they bagged themselves a seasoned pro who has the experience that most 145-pound fighters have yet to come close to.
And probably never will.
At the age of 35, Kawajiri has competed against the best-of-the-best throughout his 13-year career during his stints with PRIDE FC, DREAM and Shooto. Fighting the majority of his 41 MMA bouts in his native Japan, Tatsuya looks to bring a wealth of combat sports knowledge and experience with him when he makes his Octagon debut in 2014.
And now that his dream of fighting in UFC has come true, "Crusher" is determined to make a run at the title and he wants to jump into the deep water by taking on a top-10 opponent right away.
His words to FOX Sports:
"I don't think there is any weakness when it comes to top 10fighters in the UFC. All of those guys are amazing in any situation. And Jose Aldo, at this point, is the most outstanding fighter. His punches and kicks are beyond featherweight quality. Even wrestling and BJJ, I believe he can compete against anyone. My wish is to fight a fighter in the top 10. Like I said, these guys have no flaws so I know it's going to be a tough fight. But, I don't think I am notch below these guys. I have many experiences under my belt. Do you see any top fighters in the featherweight division that have faced fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Eddie Alvarez, PRIDE champions, Muay Thai champions and K-1 champions? I have the experiences that today's featherweight fighters don't have. And I believe even in a very tough fight, these experiences would lead me to the victory. I want to be number-one man in the featherweight division. My goal is to get that featherweight belt."
Tatsuya is currently the proud owner of a five-fight win streak dating back to 2011.
His last loss came at the hands of former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez two years ago at Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Daley," as "El Nino" knocked out "Crusher" in the very first round in a 155-pound title fight.
After defeating Drew Fickett in his following contest, Kawajiri made the drop down to the 145-pound division, a move that proved to be a wise one as Tatsuya has won four straight including an impressive submission victory over Joachim Hansen at DREAM 17.
And as clock keeps ticking on his combat sports career, Tatsuya is determined to make perhaps one last run at a world title before the sand on the hourglass tops out.
Anyone expect big things from Kawajiri now that he's made his way to UFC? Who should be the first man to welcome him to the Octagon?