Tatsuya Kawajiri pondered on retirement before UFC debut, but now eyes champ Jose Aldo

The 35-year-old made a triumphant octagon debut on January 4th at UFC Fight Night 34 in Singapore, securing a second round submission victory over Sean Soriano. With that huge win in the bag, Kawajiri officially announced his foray into the UFC’s packed 145-lbs division, and only time will tell if the Japanese vet’s second stint in North America will be a successful one.

“I love the sport of mixed martial arts and I’m proud to be Japanese. Now I’m in the major leagues, the world’s best stage – the UFC. I’m only looking to become a champion here,” he said, at the event’s post-fight press conference.

But Kawajiri admitted that circumstances weren’t in his favor prior to his UFC debut, and he would have retired prior to the bout.

Well, he contemplated.

Along with undetermined bouts, the 34-year-old was on the shelves for some months or so too, nursing injuries. That eventually, he said, took a toll on him mentally, leading him to consider hanging up his gloves for good.

“This was my first fight in about one year, and it that time I actually thought about quitting MMA a couple of times. That’s why I was very nervous before the fight and when I won, I had a lot of tension,” he said. “I had a few injuries, and my fights didn’t get confirmed for a long time. I almost lost my motivation. But now that I’m with the UFC, I trained for Sean Soriano harder than I did before, so I’m going to continue doing that and I’d like to show that this is not the Kawajiri you know yet. You’re going to see a better Kawajiri later.”

While Kawajiri holds a quality resume in the Asian MMA circles, the Japanese fighter, however, has come up short against top North America-based fighters like Gilbert Melendez in recent times. Nonetheless, after Saturday’s performance, Kawajiri hopes to put a stamp in the Featherweight division, and he would love nothing more than a shot against 145-lbs kingpin, Jose Aldo.

“If it’s possible I’d love to fight the champion Jose Aldo, but I’m sure there are orders I have to follow. I want to fight some top ten fighters,” Kawajiri said. “I look at this fight (with Soriano) as just the beginning, and I’m hoping to go into mainland America to fight even bigger names in the division.”

For UFC Fight Night 34 results, click here.

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Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA writer. You can check out some of his work over on MMASucka.com. Follow him (@ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Featured, MMA, Singapore, UFC

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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