Many observers believe Japanese MMA is on life support, if not already dead. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami couldn't have come at a worse time.
So you could say Tatsuya Kawajiri, who meets Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez April 9 at "Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley," is fighting to prove Japanese MMA is still alive and kicking. Kawajiri said it's not only about that but also about bringing joy to those closest to him.
"I'm always fighting for myself, but I do want to meet the expectations of fans and friends, so I'm looking forward to seeing my fans, friends and family smiling after the fight," said Kawajiri through a translator.
"I feel that I have advanced as an MMA fighter, and I'll be able to fight a smarter fight this time. I'm training to become a better fighter every day, so that's what I'm looking forward to in my second fight against Gilbert."
Interestingly, Kawajiri's preparation has not included work inside a cage. A similar strategy from his countryman, Shinya Aoki, raised questions about whether the lack of time inside the structure proved to be a stumbling block. That could mean Kawajiri is banking on a standup fight.
"(After Strikeforce purchase) it seems like I might be fighting for a UFC title sooner than I thoughtI ... want to be the number one fighter in the world and I'm trying to prove that. So whoever has the strap is who I'd like to fight .... I see that title possibly changing a couple times. Gray could be the champ in the next 2 months. After that Gray might lose to someone else like Clay Guida or Anthony Pettis. I see that title changing a lot. So whoever has the belt is basically who I want, and whoever is going to prove I'm number one. And now I think it's going to happen."
"I'm on a mission. I'm going to become the number one fighter by the end of my career. I guarantee you I'll be the number one lightweight in the world."
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