The 32-year old “Crusher” rides a four-fight win streak into his first championship bout with the promotion. Kawajiri’s more notable performances include wins over divisional standouts Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Joachim Hansen.
Of his last 13 fights, Kawajiri has only dropped bouts to Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
Aoki has won three of his last four bouts, dropping a five-round unanimous decision to Melendez at Strikeforce “Nashville” on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn. The 27-year-old submission strategist previously bested Hansen and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, as well as Sengoku lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota. Aoki’s handling of Hirota last New Year’s Eve at K-1 “Dynamite” was considered exceptionally brutal, as Aoki broke Hirota’s arm with a hammerlock in 77 seconds.