Kawajiri Drops to Featherweight, Faces ‘Hellboy’ at Dream 17

By Chris Nelson Aug 3, 2011
Following failed bids for both the Dream and Strikeforce lightweight titles, Tatsuya Kawajiri will make his featherweight debut in September when he takes on Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen.

Dream officials Thursday announced the addition of the matchup to the promotion’s Sept. 24 card, Dream 17, which takes place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Scheduled for three five-minute rounds, the bout will be contested at the Dream featherweight limit of 143 pounds.

The men have squared off before, albeit briefly: in a 2006 Shooto title bout, Kawajiri was awarded a disqualification victory after catching an inadvertent kick in the groin from Hansen only eight seconds into the first round.

Since 2009, the 33-year-old “Crusher” Kawajiri (Pictured; file photo) has lost only twice in eight outings, but both defeats came at the hands of world-ranked 155-pounders. In July 2010, the former Shooto 154-pound world champion was submitted in less than two minutes by an Achilles lock from Dream ace Shinya Aoki.

After outpointing former Strikeforce champ Josh Thomson, Kawajiri came up short in his April bid for the American belt, as he was knocked out for only the second time in his 11-year career by Gilbert Melendez. The T-Blood representative returned to action in July and easily disposed of resurgent UFC veteran Drew Fickett.

Hansen, 32, has found success at 143 pounds following an up-and-down run in Dream’s lightweight division. The Norwegian vet stunned Aoki with a first-round knockout in 2008 to win the Japanese promotion’s lightweight strap, but was tapped by the spindly submission wiz in their rematch 14 months later.

Hellboy fell to then-champ Bibiano Fernandes and now-champ Hiroyuki Takaya in his first two featherweight outings, but subsequently submitted both Hideo Tokoro and Sami Aziz. Most recently, Hansen notched a split decision over Mitsuhiro Ishida in May.

Dream 17 will also feature the opening round of the organization’s eight-man bantamweight title tournament, as well as a lightweight tilt between Aoki and WEC vet “Razor” Rob McCullough.

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