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Tatsuya Kawajiri Isn't Training in Cage for Strikeforce Title Fight

Top 10 lightweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, who has been accustomed to fighting inside a ring the past 11 years in Japan, hasn't made adjustments for his first-ever fight inside a cage.

As he heads into his title shot this Saturday against Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in San Diego, Kawajiri apparently doesn't think the fighting surface will be a major factor in the fight.

"He's been training as usual and no specific training geared towards a fight in a cage," Kawajiri's translator Ryo Ishibashi said on a recent Strikeforce conference call.

It's been evident time and time again that there are at least some differences when it comes to ring vs. cage. Melendez is one to acknowledge these variations and sees his cage experience as one of the possible advantages against Kawajiri. While Melendez will obviously not rely on Kawajiri to get flustered in a new setting, he plans on exploiting it if the opportunity presents itself.

"I'm not banking on anything, but I am happy that I'm familiar with the cage, and that I'm familiar with the California commission, and I'm familiar with my hometown and that people are going to be cheering for me," Melendez said. "That's an advantage for me, but I'm not banking on it messing with him. But if it does give him problems, I'll totally take advantage and try to expose it, like I did to [Shinya] Aoki."

More on Kawajiri off the Diaz vs. Daley call:

Kawajiri said he only missed about a week of training due to the recent earthquake and tsunami tragedy in Japan and although the Japanese MMA scene and business is at an all-time low, Kawajiri doesn't see himself out to represent Japanese MMA against Melendez.

"He's always fighting for himself and this fight is between himself and Gilbert, so that's No. 1," Ishibashi said. "But No. 2, he does want to meet the expectations of his fans and friends. He's looking forward to seeing his fans, friends and family smiling after the fight."

Kawajiri also commented on how different this rematch will be compared to their first meeting in 2006 when Melendez escaped with the unanimous decision after two rounds.

"He feels he has advanced as an MMA fighter," Ishibashi said. "He thinks he will be able to fight a smarter fight this time. He is obviously training to become a better MMA fighter every day and that's what he's looking forward to in the second fight with Gilbert."

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