Tatsuya Kawajiri: Daniel Herbertson | Sherdog.com
Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson will square off against onetime Shooto 154-pound titleholder Tatsuya Kawajiri in Japan on New Year’s Eve.
The pair are set to meet at “Dynamite: The Power of Courage 2010,” which takes place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. “Dynamite” is the annual New Year’s Eve super-card mounted by Dream and K-1 parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group.
The Thomson-Kawajiri match was officially announced Wednesday in a press release issued by Strikeforce, with whom Dream formed a talent-sharing alliance in 2009. Like April’s Gilbert Melendez-Shinya Aoki showdown in Strikeforce, the bout represents another instance of the companies exchanging fighters for promotional purposes. The fight is the second officially announced matchup scheduled for “Dynamite,” joining Dream's featherweight title scrap between champion Bibiano Fernandes and Hiroyuki Takaya.
Thomson comes fresh off a unanimous decision victory over Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante at Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Noons 2” in October. Prior to that bout, he earned a third-round submission over Pat Healy, submitting “Bam Bam” with a rear-naked choke in June. “The Punk” had an eight-fight winning streak snapped a year ago when he was defeated by Melendez in a rematch of their 2008 scrap in which Thomson won Strikeforce’s lightweight title. In the return affair, it was Melendez who got the better of the exchanges and dictated where the fight would take place, turning back the American Kickboxing Academy standout and lifting his title at Strikeforce “Evolution.”
Kawajiri recently had a four-fight win streak called to a halt by an Aoki ankle lock at Dream 15 in July. Leading up to that fight, “Crusher” had lost only once since 2006. The single blemish on the 32-year-old’s record in that span was a technical knockout loss to current Bellator 155-pound champ Eddie Alvarez in the semifinals of Dream’s 2008 lightweight grand prix. Kawajiri is a staple of the Japanese MMA scene, having fought his entire professional career in his home country.