Before stepping into the Octagon on Saturday, Tatsuya Kawajiri went more than 12 months between fights. During that time Kawajiri flirted with retirement, something that's hard to believe after witnessing the spirited post-fight interview Kawajiri gave in cage following his UFC Fight Night 34 victory over Sean Soriano.
Kawajiri used his strong ground game to earn a technical submission victory over Soriano at the 50-second mark of Round 2. The 35-year old Kawajiri used a rear naked choke to render Soriano unconscious after referee Steve Perceval failed to acknowledge Soriano's attempt to tap.
After the win, an exuberant Kawajiri requested a title fight as well as the Submission of the Night bonus. He did not receive the Fight Night bonus award, and the odds are close to zero that he'll get the title featherweight title shot, something he acknowledged at the post-fight press conference. "If it was possible, I would love to fight the champion Jose Aldo immediately, but I'm sure that there's orders I have to follow," Kawajiri said. "So, I want to fight some top ten fighters."
Kawajiri, a professional fighter since 2000 admitted that some of the extra energy he exhibited after the fight had to do with the dreaded Octagon jitters, "When I entered the Octagon I was so nervous I almost died of a heart attack, that's why when I won that fight I was so excited."
What Kawajiri was not excited about was the long break he had between his last fight and his UFC debut. Kawajiri last fought in December 2012, earning a unanimous decision over Michihiro Omigawa under the Dream banner. As for what conspired to keep him out of action until he fought in Singapore on Saturday, Kawajiri said, "I had a few injuries and my fights didn't get confirmed for a long time."
Kawajiri admitted that the long layoff left him debating retirement, "In this past year I even thought about quitting MMA a couple of times."
Signing with the UFC and earning a victory seems to have put those thoughts at bay, "This fight is just the beginning," Kawajiri said. "I am looking to go to American mainland and fight on bigger pay-per-view shows."
His ultimate goal once he makes it to the bigger pay-per-view shows? Well, headlining one of those events and winning UFC gold.
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