A lightweight bout between Tatsuya Kawajiri and Ross Ebanez has been signed to take place at DREAM.7 on March 8 in Saitama, Japan at the Saitama Super Arena.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com was notified of the matchup via official e-mail from BJPenn.com, the official web site for UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.
Kawajiri is the eight best lightweight in the world, according to the rankings for the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts. The 30-year old Japan native has not competed since a first round TKO loss this past July against Eddie Alvarez during the semifinals of DREAM’s lightweight Grand Prix.
The loss to Alvarez dropped Kawajiri’s record to 22-5-2 but the former PRIDE and Shooto star still has an impressive resume that includes notable wins over Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, Joachim Hansen, Per Eklund, Luiz Azeredo, Yves Edwards, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, and Chris Brennan.
Ebanez is a native of Hilo, Hawaii who trains under B.J. Penn. The fight vs. Kawajiri will mark his first bout in six months, as he has not competed since a first round TKO win over Waachim Spiritwolf at Rumble on the Rock’s “Beatdown 9? in October of 2008.
Ebanez currently has an overall MMA record of 19-6 and the former EliteXC veteran holds notable wins over Shannon Ritch, Josh MacDonald, and Joe Camacho. He is 3-1 in his last four fights with his lone defeat coming against Alvarez during a ShoXC event in January of 2008.
The Alvarez fight came on short notice, as will his March matchup vs. Kawajiri. However, Ebanez is not one to shy away from a challenge.
“This is a huge opportunity and even though it’s on a weeks notice I will be ready,” Ebanez told BJPenn.com. “It’s a drastic cut for me but I was already in the gym training. When the call came I jumped on it.”
In addition to Kawajiri vs. Ebanez, DREAM.7 will feature the first round of DREAM’s featherweight Grand Prix. The current lineup for the event is as follows:
First Round of the Featherweight Grand Prix -
- Atsushi Yamamoto vs. Masakazu Imanari
- Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Kim Jong Won
- Yoshiro Maeda vs. Micah Miller
- Chase Beebe vs. Joe Warren
- Takafumi Otsuka vs. Bibiano Fernandes
- Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura vs. Abel Cullum
Non-Tournament Bouts -
- Shinya Aoki vs. David Gardner
- Mitsuhiro Ishida vs. Daisuke Nakamura
- Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Ross Ebanez