The long-anticipated match-up between Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri appears to finally be set to occur after the pairing was announced at last night’s DREAM 14 event. According to DREAM officials the bout will take place at DREAM 15 on July 10th in Saitama, Japan.
Aoki, the promotion’s lightweight title-holder, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Strikeforce 155-pound champ Gilbert Melendez this past April and will be looking to make his first successful defense of the DREAM belt when he steps into the ring on July 10th to face his “T-Blood”-trained opposition. The 23-5 submission savant is 9-2 in the Japanese promotion, picking up TKO losses to Joachim Hansen and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai and notable wins over Eddie Alvarez, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, Caol Uno, and Hansen along the way.
“Crusher” Kawajiri, known more for rendering his opponents unable to continue rather than tapping them out, is 7-1 dating back to 2007 and will have avoided defeat for nearly two years by the time he and Aoki face off in July. His single loss over that period came by TKO to aforementioned “Top 5” lightweight Alvarez.