On Wednesday, UFC announced the signing of PRIDE / DREAM veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Kawajiri himself also wrote in his blog, "I signed UFC contract" on the same day.
On top of this, in his blog, Kawajiri revealed that he is hoping to make an Octagon debut at UFC's first installment in Singapore on January 4th, 2014.
Kawajiri spoke with ADCC News in regards to his decision and what he has been doing in year 2013.
"Well, I've been fighting for DREAM since 2008. However, this year, DREAM didn't promote any show, and meanwhile, I was injured so, I had no choice but to take a break from fighting. So, this year, my goal was to come back to fighting, and at the same time, I was hoping DREAM would come through with the show but they didn't.
My injury is healed now, and I already began hard training. And, I couldn't give up on this dream, which is to become the strongest MMA fighter in the word, therefore, to achieve this dream, I've decided to challenge in the UFC because it is the highest summit in MMA."
Kawajiri last fought on New Year's Eve 2012 so its been almost a year and he sounded comfortable about this break, "I am a professional fighter and in order for me to survive (in this business), I have to continue to get stronger. MMA is a sport that evolves everyday so I believe, in this sport, be on a plateau means retrogression. However, not just this year but also in 2007, during the time when I couldn't fight, I made sure to to get rid of those damages I sustained from years of fighting, so, still, I feel physically very strong."
Kawajiri only fought twice outside Japan but he didn't seem too concerned about fighting in overseas, "Sure, I only fought outside Japan twice. And one of those two fights took place at where there was only one-hour time difference. I know, what I need the most now is these experiences of fighting in various places. So, I am thinking about consulting with the other UFC fighters in Japan to get a proper advise to come with the best solutions for this."
Then, he added, "I want to be number-one man in the featherweight division. My goal is to get that featherweight belt."
UFC hasn't announced the date and the opponent of Kawajiri's first UFC fight yet.
Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Tatsuya Kawajiri