Josh Thomson is putting the final touches on his brief camp to get ready for his New Year’s Eve showdown against Tatsuya Kawajiri, but that wasn’t who the American Kicboxing Academy fighter was originally set to face for the year-end show in Japan.
The former Strikeforce lightweight champion revealed to MMAWeekly Radio that when he was first set to fight on Dream’s Dynamite!! 2010 fight card, it was against current Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.
“I was at a (Golden State) Warriors game and all of a sudden (Scott) Coker just texted me and he was like ‘hey, do you want to fight in Japan against Aoki?’ and I’m like, ‘no, not really, I haven’t been training, I’m not in shape, and it’s three weeks away.’ He’s like, ‘well, why don’t we try to figure something out.’ I guess Gil (Melendez) had pulled out of the fight with Aoki and so they really needed somebody to kind of keep their relationship strong with Dream and Strikeforce,” Thomson said.
According to Thomson, he had actually already begun training for Aoki and had a week down in his camp before he got the call that he would instead face Kawajiri.
“From Aoki to Kawajiri, that first week I was training for Aoki and then like Saturday night they called and were like, ‘we want Aoki to fight a four-round fight against a K-1 Max fighter, one round apiece.’ You know, one round kickboxing, one round MMA, one round kickboxing, and one round MMA. I guess the best way for them to do that was to eliminate me from the equation,” Thomson commented. “So basically it was put in the situation where he wanted to be on the show, then he had to fight that fight, and so they gave me Kawajiri.”
Kawajiri will be returning to action for the first time since a devastating submission loss suffered at the hands of Aoki back in July. The T-Blood team fighter is 4-1 over his last five fights, with that being his only loss.
Throughout his career, Kawajiri has maintained a reputation for being one of the toughest lightweights in the division and has faced some of the best competition in the weight class. Thomson knows just how good Kawajiri is and while a short camp isn’t ideal, he’s ready for the challenge ahead in Japan.
“Originally, I didn’t want the fight based on that he’s somebody I would have liked to prepared a lot longer for. I mean this is somebody with even an eight- or 10-week camp you can’t really be ready enough for him,” Thomson said. “This time it really came down to keeping the relationship between Strikeforce and Dream together, and making it work between Strikeforce fighters and the Dream fighters, and I felt like we can do the deal and get it done and now it’s fine.”
Thomson will travel to Japan in the upcoming week to get ready for the New Year’s Eve showdown against Kawajiri at Dynamite!!, while Aoki will fight on the card as well in a special rules match against Yuichiro “Jienotsu” Nagashima.