This is a guest post by Stephie "Crooklyn" Daniels. Follow Stephie on Twitter @CrooklynMMA.
Tatsuya Kawajiri has had an illustrious career for the last 12 years, and this coming Saturday, March 31, he hopes to add another victory to his resume. He'll be taking on former KOTC featherweight champion, Donald Sanchez, in ONE FC's latest outing, War of the Lions. The fight will be in Singapore, and will air live and free via a Youtube stream for those not able to attend the event. I was recently afforded the opportunity to submit questions for an email interview, so I gathered some of my own questions, as well as some fan questions.
SD: Will we see the Kawajiri-gatame against Donald Sanchez?
TK: Of course, I'm aiming for it.
SD: Since ONE FC uses a cage, have you been training in a cage to better acclimate yourself to fighting in one?
SD: How do you feel about ONE FC's ruleset?
TK: It's quite a dangerous ruleset with elbows, knees on the ground and soccer ball kicks, so I'm pretty excited to fight under these rules.
SD: Is it true you fought Kazuo Misaki before he made his pro Shooto debut?
TK: Yes. I don't remember exactly but I fought Misaki in the amateur prize money tournament held in Ibaraki and lost.
SD: After the sale of PRIDE, you supposedly spent about 6 months preparing to fight under UFC rules, working on things like elbows, but never received a call, and then Yarennoka was arranged. Is that true?
TK: I had an option to fight in UFC after Zuffa bought PRIDE and I had trained to fight with elbows.
SD: You've always been very professional and scientific about strength and conditioning, and used to lift heavily up until the Kultar Gill fight. Is it true your max bench press was 135kg?
TK: When I fought Kultar Gill, I was quite into the weight training and held about 120kg bench press for 10 consecutive times. I can't tell the max, but I was doing the weight lift until just before the fight.
SD: How hard is it to make the cut to featherweight?
TK: Now, I'm doing many different training methods. I walk around 75kg and take balanced food, doing aerobic exercise as well.
SD: You're sponsored by a tuna company, what's your diet like when cutting, almost entirely tuna?
TK: Tuna is low calorie and contains high protein, so I eat tuna well for the diet.
SD: You have no formal background in any particular martial art. How hard has it been to learn all those skills at the same time, which was the hardest discipline, and how tough is it to still keep improving after fighting for more than a decade?
TK: Even though I had no background when I started my career, I observed Hayato Sakurai, my mentor, well and was able to learn various skills as a whole. Learning various skills are quite important to win the fight, so I didn't think it was hard thing to do. But striking was hard to learn and I still feel the same. I'd like to improve all my skills to a perfect level.
SD: What's your training situation like for this fight? How much travelling do you do in the course of a fight camp?
TK: I trained as usual for the fight. I train in Tokyo 3 times a week.
SD: With this being only your second fight abroad, have you finally conquered your famous fear of flying?
TK: I've overcome the issue with flying and would like to fight all around the world.
SD: What do you think the future holds for Japanese MMA?
TK: Time changes and goes by. But I don't think Japan would ever lose its power in MMA. People around me are still passionate and dedicated.
SD: You've been a top 10 lightweight for years, where do you see yourself at featherweight?
TK: I consider myself as top10 fighter in this division, as well, and I would like to prove it by defeating current top10 fighters, if possible.
SD: What fight of yours is your favorite, and what fight outside of your own is your favorite?
TK: My memorable fight is fight against Shaolin back in 2004 when I won Shooto title. I was most impressed by the Hayato Sakurai vs. Frang Trigg fight in 2000.
SD: How's life as a fighter changed now that you're a father?
TK: As I have more to carry on my shoulders, I'm more focused and dedicated to MMA.
SD: Do you and/or the Japanese combat culture resent the UFC and American MMA for purchasing Pride?
TK: No, I don't think fans are angry about it. Neither am I.
SD: What are your plans for the future?
TK: To be the best fighter of the world in this division.
Follow Tatsuya Kawajiri via his Twitter @Crusher_MMA