http://mmajunkie.com/2014/01/tatsuya...-fight-in-ufc/

SINGAPORE – If it wasn’t for a call from the UFC, Tatsuya Kawajiri might have been done with MMA entirely.

Instead, on Saturday he continued his strong run at featherweight – and is taking aim at a UFC title.

The 35-year-old Kawajiri signed with the UFC in October, already more than 40 fights into his professional career. The decorated Japanese fighter has but seven losses, and most of them are to a who’s-who of MMA lightweight history.

At UFC Fight Night 34, Kawajiri (33-7-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) got a stiff early test from Sean Soriano (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) before submitting him in the second round to get over the hump of his UFC debut.

After the fight, “Crusher” said he wants to use the win to catapult himself to bigger and better in the UFC right away. But he also admitted he had been down on his hopes after a decision win over Michihiro Omigawa that came at DREAM.18 on New Year’s Eve 2012.

“This was my first fight in almost a year, and in the past year I even thought about quitting MMA a couple of times,” he said through a translator. “That’s why I was very nervous and when I won, I had a lot of tension. I’m looking at this fight as just the beginning. I’m looking to go into America and fight on bigger pay-per-view shows.”
Kawajiri told MMAjunkie at the post-event news conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore that having injuries and fights fall off before the UFC came calling had him frustrated.

“I had a few injuries, and my fights didn’t get confirmed for a long time,” he said. “I almost lost my motivation. But now I’m in the UFC, so I trained for this fight harder than I ever did before. I’m going to keep doing that and I want to show the fans that this is not the Kawajiri you know yet. You’re going to see a better Kawajiri later.”
After fighting exclusively in Japan his entire career, Kawajiri nearly three years ago came to the United States and challenged Gilbert Melendez for his Strikeforce lightweight title. The fight was a rematch from one Melendez won in PRIDE in 2006. Melendez made quick work of Kawajiri, stopping him with elbows in the first round.

Following the loss, Kawajiri dropped to featherweight and hasn’t looked back. He’s now won six straight, with five by stoppage and four by submission. And he believes he’s already done enough to put the 145-pound class on notice.

“I love the sport of mixed martial arts and I’m proud to be Japanese. Now I’m in the major leagues – the world’s best stage, the UFC. So I’m only looking to become champion here,” he said. “If it’s possible, I’d love to fight the champion, Jose Aldo, immediately. But I’m sure there are orders I have to follow. So I want to fight some top 10 fighters.”
Aldo defends his title against Ricardo Lamas a month from now in New Jersey. After that, there is a packed top of the heap at featherweight. But Kawajiri can almost be assured he’ll get someone at or near the top of the division.

And next time, perhaps he won’t have those infamous first-time octagon nerves.

“UFC jitters? That’s what I was today. It was a hard fight,” he said. “When I entered the octagon, I was so nervous I almost died of a heart attack. That’s why when I won the fight, I was so excited. There was just high tension.”