RIZIN FF’s Autumn show just got a little more interesting. Pride, Strikeforce, and UFC veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri will appear at RIZIN’s October event in Fukuoka, the promotion announced Friday. There, he’ll seek to pick up a wild card spot to enter the RIZIN Fighting Federation bantamweight grand prix.
Kawajiri will face undefeated Brazilian prospect Gabriel Oliveira (9-0) on the card. Both fighters will be dropping down from featherweight to meet at a catchweight of 138.9lb. According to RIZIN General Manager Nobuhiko Takada (via press release),
Kawajiri sent me a picture in July, during the madness of putting together the event. I thought that he just wanted to bug me about getting on the October event, but the picture was him standing on a scale at 63kg (138lb), and he told me he wanted in on the Bantamweight tournament. He usually walks around at 75kg and he dropped all this weight just to tell me he wanted to get in the tournament. This moment, I knew the determination of Kawajiri, and I had to consider putting him in the tournament.
After competing the first half of his career at welterweight and later lightweight, where he challenged for the Strikeforce lightweight championship, Kawajiri dropped to featherweight in 2011, and immediately went on a five fight win streak. That included his UFC debut against Sean Soriano in 2014. Kawajiri (36–11–2) would go 3-3 in the promotion before asking for his release in October 2016. He then jumped to RIZIN, going 1-1 at featherweight. October will mark the first steps toward his bantamweight debut.
Kawajiri enters the bout off a win over Anthony Birchak at RIZIN FF 5 in April.
The RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Autumn card takes place October 15 at the Fukuoka Marine Messe in Fukuoka, Japan. The opening round of the women’s atomweight grand prix will be featured at the event.