The Crusher as he's known in Japan was nicknamed for his dominate clinch and grappling top game. Which we assure you is not sexual innuendo.
There is something special about Japan and MMA. Maybe it's the educated audience. Maybe it's the pageantry and elaborate respects payed to the athletes putting their lives and careers on the line. It might just be that here at cracked when we're behind on a piece and it's five a.m. we like a little "wtf!?" with our MMA.
What the fucking fuck Japan?
It might be that referee Yuji Shimada would let matches come close to death before declaring a winner.
Whatever the reason, MMA is going loco right now. It's our duty here at cracked to let it be known that yes, the sport did exist before "The Ultimate Fighter" reality T.V. show. That existence was largely in Japan. While a few of the fighters from the glory days of Japanese MMA have crossed over. Some remain in Japan still battling the pronunciation of "L" and "R". Kawajiri is one of the elite few that has yet to fight on American soil, but fights genuinely like that of an American mixed martial artist.
It takes balls to promote a fight in that jacket.
What we mean by "genuinely American" is that he has a dominate wrestling game topped off with viscous strikes on the ground. While he's standing, he has very little respect for his opponents punching power and always options to brawl. While it's cost him some wins he's made classic fight history.
- 2005 Pride FC, Fight of the Year. Takanori Gomi (W) Vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (L)
- 2008 Sherdog.com, Fight of the Year. Tatsuya Kawajiri (L) Vs. Eddie Alvarez (W)
Losing two fights of the year would sound like career suicide for most prize fighters. Not so for "The Crusher", he consistently rebounds in a major way. Kawajiri is one of the few MMA fighters that have fought K-1 champion and an MMA champion. A slight twist of fate and Kawajiri could be touted as the greatest fighting machine alive.
Kawajiri has always been that one fight away from being a world champion. Four out of Kawajiri's five losses were all ranked in the top five of the lightweight division. Two of those four losses occurred in a tournament format. What's even crazier, is that every time "The Crusher" loses, something dark happens to him. He comes back with noticeably improved skills then when he lost.
Losses due to submission. He comes back fearless of the ground, often grounding his opponents and beating their heads into the mat like some kind of punching basketball toy.
Losses due to strikes and submission. Comes back more aggressive then ever.
Losses due to over-agressive striking and effective counter-striking. Comes back a more technical striker and grappler.
If giant jellyfish weren't ugly and squishy we would start campaigning for Kawajiri to change his nickname. Like giant jellyfish, Kawajiri keeps getting caught and keeps getting studied but no one has the slightest idea "wtf" is up with this thing.
MMA fighters are often one loss away from obscurity. Few have rebounded to stake a claim in the top tiers of their division like Kawajiri. It seems in fact, every time "The Crusher" gets crushed, he comes back even stronger than he was when he lost. By this mmath, in the year 2014 Kawajiri will morph into Wolverine incarnate. Not the flamboyant musical theater wolverine either.
This is not what we're talking about.
We're talking about the Wolverine that would eat fire and piss gasoline.
Something like this.
The signs that Kawajiri was implanted with a nueral-net-processor first started to appear after Kawajiri lost his first MMA fight in Shooto. It happened to also be his first professional MMA match ever. After his first loss he went on an eight fight winning streak, tearing a hole through the Shooto division. After losing to the future Shooto Champion, the virtually unbeatable Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro. Kawajiri rebounded in a major way. He would go onto dominate the field and regain the mount position on his weight division.
Oh yeah, that pesky "Shaolin" Ribeiro? "The Crusher" punched his face off of his face to take the Lightweight Shooto title. Kawajiri kept the Shooto title and kept on winning his way into Japan's premier fight organization, Pride FC. "The Crusher" would go on to fight Takanori Gomi in a champion Vs. champion showdown....
....and then he would get even better.
Whatever Japan digs up to defeat the latest model of Tatsuya "The Crusher" Kawajiri, we don't want to be in the greater metropolitan area of Tokyo, Japan when it goes down.