TOKYO Roppongi – September 1st, RIZIN held a press conference in Tokyo at the RIZIN HQ to announce an addition to the Fukuoka event. Tatsuya Kawajiri will be fighting on the card to get himself into the Bantamweight Grand-Prix as the wildcard.
RIZIN General Manager Nobuhiko Takada announced that Tatsuya Kawajiri will be facing an undefeated prospect from Brazil, Gabriel Oliveira (9-0) at 63kg (138.9lb). He followed up the announcement that the winner will be set to take one of the wildcard spots for December 29th. Both fighters will be dropping a weight class from their original feather weight division, so the weight for this fight is set at catch weight, which then the winner has to make 61kg in December.
“Kawajiri sent me a picture in July, during the madness of putting together the event. I thought that he just wanted to bug me about getting on the October event, but the picture was him standing on a scale at 63kg (138lb), and he told me he wanted in on the Bantamweight tournament. He usually walks around at 75kg and he dropped all this weight just to tell me he wanted to get in the tournament. This moment, I knew the determination of Kawajiri, and I had to consider putting him in the tournament.”
The Japanese MMA veteran fought his first half of his career in the welterweight division putting on memorial performances with Takanori Gomi, Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez and more. Kawajiri fought his first appearance at featherweight in 2011, when he fought Joachim Hansen in DREAM 17 and stayed at 145lb since. The former Shooto world Champion has fought 13 fights since, in the featherweight division fighting in DREAM, One Championship, UFC and RIZIN.
If he earns the spot for the wildcard, this will be Kawajiri’s first attempt to make 135lb, and it won’t be an easy task, but the former UFC vet is determined to make the weight. “The only reason why I am doing this, is because I want Horiguchi. If he wasn’t in this tournament, I would never go through all of this pain to just make weight. I want to put everything I have, everything I have worked for, in this tournament to fight the icon of Japan’s young, promising generation. I made it down to 63kg (138lb) in July for a test, and I have been able to keep my weight around 68kg (150lb) and feel strong for the past 2 months. I will be ready to make weight and perform the same.”
Gabriel Oliveira is the current Featherweight Champion 3 promotions, 2 countries. X-Force MMA, Curitiba Top Fight in Brazil, and Peru FC in Peru, holding a perfect 9-0 record. The Rio de Janeiro native stands at 173cm (5’8”), and utilizes his significant reach and boxing skills to control the fight on the feet, the style which has awarded him with 4 TKO victories. The 27 year old has fought at Bantamweight in his most recent fight, and will be more comfortable fighting at the lighter weight class than his opponent. Oliveira looks to showcase his skills to the world in the biggest platform he has ever fought in, and impress the world by defeating a Japanese legend.