Tatsuya Kawajiri crushes in his UFC debut making short work of Sean Soriano

Tatsuya Kawajiri came up big in his UFC debut.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


For more than a decade now, Tatsuya Kawajiri has been considered one of the top fighters in all of mixed martial arts but on Saturday in Singapore the 40-plus fight veteran finally made his UFC debut and he didn't waste any time to impress his new bosses.

As a mainstay in PRIDE Fighting Championships, Kawajiri was a force throughout his career facing and beating many top names including Josh Thomson, JZ Cavalcante and Yves Edwards. The 35 year old Japanese fighter recently found a career rejuvenation, however, by dropping down to featherweight where he's been a perfect 4-0.

Taking on undefeated newcomer Sean Soriano in Singapore, Kawajiri was not looking for a standup battle with the young fighter out of the Blackzilian camp in Florida as he immediately shot in time after time looking for the takedown. Soriano was strong in his counters, shucking off Kawajiri early but as the first round wore on it was clear the veteran competitor wasn't about to be deterred.

Kawajiri finally got the fight to the mat and almost secured a finish with strikes from the mount while taking Soriano's back, but the horn sounded signifying the end of the round. As the second session began, it was clear Kawajiri's mission wasn't going to be stopped because within seconds he again got the fight to the mat accept this time he immediately secured his arm under Soriano's neck and locked in the rear naked choke.

The pressure from the choke was overwhelming and Soriano had no choice but to tap out. Unfortunately, referee Steve Perceval either didn't see the tap or ignored it because he didn't stop the fight and a few seconds later Soriano was unconscious. It was a remarkably poor performance from the referee, but luckily Soriano was fine and Kawajiri quickly started his celebration.

Kawajiri (33-7-2) had to wait until deep into his career to finally make his UFC debut, but he quickly reminded everyone that there is still plenty of tread left in his tires. Following the fight, the Japanese featherweight had some tough words for his opponent Sean Soriano (8-1) and a warning shot to the rest of the division

"Someone stronger than this," Kawajiri answered when asked who he would like to face next. "I can be stronger with a stronger opponent."

Kawajiri will be a welcome addition to the UFC's already deep featherweight division, and with his experience against top-level competition he will almost certainly earn a top ten fight in the near future.

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