Q&A: SHOOTO Welterweight Champion Tatsuya Kawajiri

By Masa Fukui Apr 25, 2005
Ladies and gentlemen, in what may be his first interview with international media, Sherdog.com presents SHOOTO welterweight champion Tatsuya Kawajiri, who won by first-round TKO last night in Fukuoka, Japan.

Several weeks ago, the champion talked about his title fight last December against Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, his background as a fighter and also a bit about Yves Edwards. So sit back, relax and enjoy the thoughts of the SHOOTO welterweight champion.

Sherdog.com: All right, here we go again. Mr. Tatsuya Kawajiri, I always do this. I know you’re a SHOOTO champion, so a lot of people in foreign countries already know about you. But let’s just start with who you are … like you body size, your fighting background … etc.

Tatsuya Kawajiri: OK, my height is 170 cm. I weight 78 kg. And what else I should tell about myself? Oh my fight career. My fight career — 12-2-2 something like that. I don’t have any fighting background.

Sherdog.com: You don’t have background?

Kawajiri: Maybe only image training.

Sherdog.com: Did you do any sports before?

Kawajiri: I was on a track and field club.

Sherdog.com: Oh really? What event?

Kawajiri: I ran 800m.

Sherdog.com: So you must have good conditioning.

Kawajiri: Yeah, kinda. 800m is mid-distance. So, I trained for it.

Sherdog.com: So, when did you start training MMA?

Kawajiri: I started training MMA in 1998. So I’ve been doing this for seven years, or six years and bit.

Sherdog.com: Why did you start MMA training?

Kawajiri: Hmm, what brought into this sport? Well, I had some kind of confidence that I’m strong even without any fight experience. I just thought I’m strong, so I started. (laughs) And I wasn’t really strong though.

Sherdog.com: You started it when you were a high school student?

Kawajiri: No I was 19 when I started. Yeah, it was before I became 20.

Sherdog.com: OK. So let’s talk about your title fight in December. That night, the audience in Yoyogi was very hyped up and I was very excited too. About your fight: How did you prepare? Did you train for anything special?

Kawajiri: Yeah, I tried to break Shaolin’s fighting rhythm. So I practice a lot of left low kick. I did that practice a lot.

Sherdog.com: So you researched about Shaolin’s fight style a lot?

Kawajiri: Yeah. Well, not research, but we knew what kind of strategy Shaolin has. So we just tried to destroy his strategy. Then I could win. That was our thought. So we train a long time to kill Shaolin’s strong point.

Sherdog.com: Now, your weight class is becoming hot. Lots of people’s eyes are on your weight class, like they had MFC in NJ in America. Is there anybody you want to fight? Or what do you think about foreign fighters?

Kawajiri: What do I think about them? Well, I would like to fight somebody whom everybody thinks is “the best.” I want to be No. 1 in the world. So I want to fight against strong guy.

Sherdog.com: In America. Yves Edwards is considered the best contender in your weight class, as people say he is the uncrowned champion of UFC.

Kawajiri: Yeah that’s true. He’s a strong dude. But I won against him one time. So I can just leave it. (laughs)

Sherdog.com: One time, I wrote in my column that I wanna see you fight Yves.

Kawajiri: I know he’s been winning for a while like me in the other side of the Pacific Ocean. He’s a tough dude. So If I’m fighting him, I’d like to bet some title with him. I don’t want to fight for something cheap (not about money. But title). But it has to be some big promoted fight like title match. At the extreme stage and extreme situation. I want to fight him with full spiritual, maximum spirit and maximum technique.

Sherdog.com: Good, I’d like to see that. I’m sorry we don’t have time, so we gotta ask another question. Lots of people talk about you in foreign Web site. Do you know that?

Kawajiri: Really? I didn’t know that at all.

Sherdog.com: Lots of people think you’re the best lightweight fighter in the world.

Kawajiri: Oh, I’m appreciative of that. Thank you.

Sherdog.com: OK, this is a very short interview. But all of your teammate already got in their car. So we got to hurry up. Do you want to say something to the world?

Kawajiri: To American fight fans?

Sherdog.com: Yeah, especially American MMA fan, but also to the MMA of this universe.

Kawajiri: OK, I finally got what I really wanted for long time last year. And I still am motivated to fight a lot. So Please keep your eyes on my fight. And enjoy my fight.
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