Recently UFC boss Dana White has been talking about why fighter’s need to perform as a result of a full roster, and now comes word that the promotion’s environment has got that much more competitive.
According to multiple reports, the UFC has signed two of Japan’s top fighters, as highly regarded PRIDE vet Tatsuya Kawajiri and former DEEP lightweight champ Katsunori Kikuno are headed to the Octagon. MMA Junkie.com was the first to report the addition of Kawajiri, and then later on it relayed that Kikuno has has also signed with the UFC. MMA Fighting.com is also reporting that Kawajiri has been added to the UFC roster.
For years, Kawajiri (32-7-2) was considered to be one of the planet’s best lightweight fighters, particularly when he was competing for PRIDE and DREAM years back. The 35 year-old vet has gone 8-2 in his last 10 fights, and the only men to defeat him during that run are former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez (you may have heard of him) and Shinya Aoki.
More recently Kawajiri has been competing at featherweight and he’s currently on a four fight win streak, which includes a victory over UFC vet Michihiro Omigawa. “The Crusher” also holds a victory over top lightweight contender Josh Thomson, which took place in 2010. If you’ve seen Kawajiri fight (besides his loss to Melendez with Strikeforce) then you know he’s no joke. Kawajiri is apparently hoping to make his UFC debut at the promotion’s first Singapore event on January 4th.
Kikuno (21-5-2) may not have quite the same rep and resume that Kawajiri does, but he’s also a decorated vet and has won five straight. The Kyokushin Karate and Judo black belt has recorded knockout victories in three of his last four fights and is also 8-2 in his last ten scraps.
So, considering the UFC plans to expand operations it’s operations throughout Asia in the coming months, it’s not surprising to see that they’ve added Kawajiri and Kikuno. The promotion has not officially announced the signings yet.
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