At one stage Tatsuya Kawajiri was considered to be the #1 lightweight in the world and he is unbeaten since dropping down to 145 pounds late last year. He is also a former Shooto welterweight champ and has fought for titles at Strikeforce and DREAM, coming up short on both occasions.
While Kawajiri has already faced many of the best fighters in the word including Shinya Aoki, Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez, and Takanori Gomi, even as a seasoned veteran he still has plenty of time to win a world title as a featherweight. That feat is something he is determined to do starting with ONE FC where he is fighting King of the Cage champion Donald Sanchez at ONE FC: War of the Lions on March 31. Their bout will be an opportunity for Kawajiri to remind people why he has been consistently ranked as one of the top fighters in the world for an entire decade and continue to show he’s a force to be reckoned with at featherweight.
The 33-year old fan-favorite spoke exclusively to Fighters.com about the move down from 155 pounds as well his first fight for ONE FC where he had plenty of interesting insight to offer.
You only ever lose to the best fighters in the world, do you think Donald Sanchez will be good enough to beat you?
Kawajiri: There’s no security that you can win in MMA. You could lose any match against any opponent if you are careless.
You did not fight for a year after losing your first MMA fight, why was that?
Kawajiri: I felt I was immature at the time and also felt that I could only be mediocre fighter if I kept on fighting like that.
Do you think you will be fighting many times for ONE FC?
Kawajiri: If possible I would like to keep fighting for ONE FC.
Would you like to win the ONE FC featherweight belt?
Do you think you will ever fight at lightweight again or are you more comfortable fighting at 145 lbs?
Kawajiri: I’m not thinking about it right now as I haven’t achieved anything yet in this division. But generally speaking, you’ll never know about the future.
Shinya Aoki is rumored to have signed with ONE FC. Would you be interested in a rematch with him?
Kawajiri: We are currently in different division, so I’m not interested in a rematch.
You have consistently been ranked in the top five fighters in your weight class but have not held a title since you left Shooto in 2006. Is winning titles important to you?
Kawajiri: I’m interested in title as a proof for what’ I’ve done. Most of all, it would make people around me happy.
Your losses have almost all been to great fighters like Shinya Aoki, Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez and Takanori Gomi. Would you like a rematch with any of these fighters?
Kawajiri: I’d like to revenge all the losses but as I’m in different division now, it won’t be realistic.
What is your favorite memory from your MMA career?
Kawajiri: When I won Shooto title.
Who is the toughest opponent you have ever faced?
Kawajiri: Gomi, Aoki, Melendez and Alvarez. They were all in their prime and tough.
Are you excited about fighting in Singapore?
Kawajiri: It is important for my career to fight in different environment. So I’m looking forward to it and want to feel the heat of Asian MMA
Have you seen any footage of Donald Sanchez and if so what are you expecting from him?
Kawajiri: He’s tall and has long reach. I’d have to be careful about the punch.
“The Crusher” holds an overall record 30-7 with numerous notable wins to his credit including those over Yves Edwards, Gesias Cavalcante, Joachim Hansen, and Josh Thomson. Twenty of his victories have involved some form of stoppage including thirteen TKOs.
PHOTO CREDIT – FEG