I was originally going to combine this event with the EliteXC on CBS card this weekend, but the fights were too good. A proper recap of each fight was warrented.
DREAM 5: Lightweight Grand Prix Semifinals & Finals
July 21st Osaka, Japan
Finals Alternate Hansen runs away with oppertunity, Championship
Photo from MMAWeekly.com
Hansen won the earlier GP alternate bout vs Kultar Gill and is replacing Eddie Alvarez who's right eye swelled dam near shut after sustaining a cut and heavy damage from his war with Kawajiri. The near 2 hour wait between Alvarez' fight and the finals caused the severe swelling to occur. Aoki earlier won a decision over Caol Uno, utilizing his superior jiu jitsu and flexibility in a no doubter. This pairing is also a rematch from their 2006 fight in PRIDE FC, where Aoki won with a first round gogoplata.
Round 1. Hansen went forward looking to set the tone, missed with a punch and Aoki took advantage with a takedown into half guard. Both would throw punches looking for openings. Aoki, not doing much with the position postured up to his feet. Hansen began throwing upkicks, one of which caught Aoki in the groin causing a rest period. Restart on the feet. Hansen again swings and misses allowing Aoki to close the distance and get a bodylock where he pulled guard, and Hansen came with him to the mat. Aoki utilizing the rubber guard to nullify Hansen's attacks. Hansen pulled free and landed a few solid punches on the ground, back into Aoki's guard. After a breif moment, Hansen backed off and came back down with a punch that stunned Aoki causing him to roll to his side. Hansen pounced and unloaded with punches to the side of Aoki's head until the ref had to step in to aid the defenseless fighter.
After the fight, Hansen made it clear that Alvarez would be the first challenger to his new found championship belt. Earlier this year they had possibly the fight of the year in their back and forth war in which both fighters heeded danger from the other. Alvarez walked away with the decision, time for round 3!
How they got here.......
Aoki defeated Gesias Calvancante in the opening round and Katsuhiro Nagata in the quarterfinals, while Uno received the lone bye of the grand prix in the opening round and defeated Mitsuhiro Ishida in the quarterfinals.
Round 1. After some low kicks from each figther, Aoki used a jumping knee to the body to close the distance into a clinch, where he would get a bodylock takedown. Immediately Aoki went for an armbar. Uno defended well and escaped into Aoki's guard. Restarted in the middle of the ring. Aoki uses a scramble by Uno to look for a leglock. Uno is wearing wrestling shoes which proves to be a detriment as it is easier for Aoki to hold onto. After a couple leglock attempts, Uno evades danger and scrambles again this time causing Aoki to go for his back. For about a minute Uno fends off Aoki's choke attempts and keeps moving. Uno rolls into Aoki's guard, but is met with an immediate triangle attempt. Uno pushes forward so he's face down on the mat, breaking Aoki's grip. Round 2. Aoki gets a takedown into Uno's half butterfly guard. Uno rolls and Aoki takes his back again, where he locks in a body triangle for control. Uno keeps moving, avoiding choke attempts. Aoki's legs keep Uno from escaping. They are used like vice grips. After a minute or so Uno reverses position into Aoki's guard. The rest of the round Aoki uses his rubberguard techniques to nullify any possible danger.
Photo from MMAWeekly.com
Alvarez defeated Andre Amade in the opening round and Joachim Hansen in the quarterfinals, while Kawajiri defeated Kultar Gill in the opening round and Luis Firmino in the quarterfinals.
Round 1. Both start out with some low kicks, and counter with punches. Kawajiri stuffs a takedown and they clinch against the ropes. Ref restart. Both begin to engage with each other, Kawajiri lands a nice counter right. Eddie recieves a cut under his right eye during the exchange. They look for openings and engage again, Eddie lands a nice uppercut that knocks Kawajiri down, who gets right up. Eddie moves forward and lands some good body punches. They engage again, Kawajiri lands a nice uppercut that knocks Eddie down. He follows into his guard. He easily passes into mount. Eddie bucks him off and rolls out, back to the feet. They begin to UNLOAD on each other. Throwing and landing with some wild hooks. Both get rocked, and Kawajiri locks up a clinch against the ropes. Seperate. They come forward again and UNLOAD again with wild hooks. Eddie beginning to get the clear upperhand. A straight right lands, follow up left misses but the ensuing right hand uppercut lands perfectly on Kawajiri's chin, knocking him down. Eddie backed away thinking the fight was over, yet the ref made no indication. He jumped in and threw a couple punches, causing Kawajiri to roll giving up his back. Eddie throws more punches and Kawajiri turtles up forcing the ref to step in and stop the fight. The cut is now a gash.
Hansen was defeated by Eddie Alvarez in the quarterfinals, while Gill was defeated by Tatsuya Kawajiri in the opening round.
Round 1. Gill closes the distance and goes for a Thai clinch. A couple knees landed to the body, though Hansen was able to catch one and score a takedown with it. Gill was able to get up right away and they clinch against the ropes. Lull in the action causes a restart in the middle. Cut kicks by Gill, and a knee to the body. Bodylock against the ropes and Hansen drops to the mat and Gill follows. Instantly, Hansen sets up an armlock after using a loose triangle to set up a transition into a fight ending armbar. Very methodical chess-style finish.
The rest of the card.......
Overeem took this fight on 1 week's notice while in the middle of his vacation following his most recent TKO win at the last DREAM event. Hunt is finally making his return to mma after his loss to Fedor on new year's eve 2006, and being put on hold after Zuffa's purchase of PRIDE FC.
Round 1. Overeem looking a little hesitant to engage in strikes. Hunt moving forward missing with punches, uses his raw power to push Overeem down to the mat. Hunt is able to move into half guard. This was a mistake as Overeem was eventually able to posture up into a keylock, after torquing the right shoulder and hyperextending the right elbow. The end came at just 1:11 of the first round.
Akiyama finally returns to action after the no contest on new year's eve to Kazuo Misaki. Shibata is a current Japanese pro wrestler who probably should stay out of mma, especially in premiere orgs such as DREAM. Akiyama wore a full gi during this match as above noted.
Round 1. Way too hesitant. Surprisingly Akiyama waited for Shibata to engage....... yet it never really happened. The first 5 minutes were quite dull with minor low kicks summing up the "action". Akiyama ate a counter right hook that finally set him off. After whiffing with a head kick, he closed the distance and secured a trip takedown. About as easily as could be he passed from side control into mount and in seconds locked up a forearm choke utilizing his gi. Setting his left forearm over Shibata's throat, he put his Right arm behind Shibata's head and grabbed his left sleeve to keep the choke from breaking. Fight over... finally.
Tokoro is coming off of a fight of the year candidate vs Darren Uyenoyama at the last DREAM event, while Yamazaki is also coming off of a win at DREAM's third event from May.
Round 1. Groin kick starts the fight off. After a restart, Yamazaki gets a takedown and attempts a guillotine which Tokoro evades and escapes back to the feet. A right hand sent Yamazaki to the mat, yet he too evading damage and popped right back up. Tokoro closed the distance and attempted a standing kimura. After releasing the hold he landed a right straight and a knee leading to a clinch. Seperate. Knee by Tokoro, follwed with another kick to the groin. The second time warrented a yellow card which indicates "2 strikes" and a dock in pay. After a restart, Yamazaki got a takedown. Tokoro was evasive and used the ropes to push off and reverse position, now looking for a leglock before the bell. Round 2. The round is simply summed up with spurts of good striking exchanges by two weak punchers. Good action at times, yet no danger of the fight ending by knock out.
Photo from MMAWeekly.com
Benavidez is quality featherweight prospect who trains with Urijah Faber. He brings in an undefeated 7-0 record fighting mostly in smaller shows based out in California, thus making his big show debut. Kudo is a quality prospect as well, yet the 2 day's notice may be tough for him to overcome after replacing injured DREAM posterboy, "KID" Norifumi Yamamoto.
Round 1. Early takedown by Jo, Kudo is able to buck him off yet eats a knee to the head while standing back up into a clinch. Seperates. Jo closes the distance into a bodylock, where he picks him up and delivers a MONSTER slam, which reminded me of The Rock's signature move. Jo transitioned to Kudo's back, not yet content he rolls out into north / south position and locks in a guillotine choke. From there he jumps back into mount with the hold still in, causing it to tighten ever more. Kudo taps and the fight is over. Very impressive showing by Benavidez who used Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" for his fight entrance song.
Hironaka returns to Japanese mma after a 1-3 stint in the UFC. He's a game opponent whos fought alot of top quality fighters including Aoki, Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves throughout his career. Miyazawa is an unknown, 4-0 prospect.
Round 1. Clinch against the ropes and they exchange knees to the body and legs. Restart after a brief lull in the action. Back to the clinch and Motoki jumps guard while Hironaka remains standing. Hironaka uses this and slams him down near the corner, where he than went on to stack him up looking for an opening. Restart after no action. Fast forward 3 minutes or so after some minor exchanges. Hironaka finally begins to open up his striking and lands a couple during a flurry. Motoki is cut above his right eye during the exchange. The cut is in a very dangerous location and the ringside doctors are forced to stop the action. Too bad, the fight was finally getting into a flow.
Nakamura is a journeyman fighter of late, racking up wins all over europe and asia. Most recently coming off of a knock out win vs Bu Jyun Kim at DREAM 3. Ologun is a part time fighter in K1's kickboxing series whos only other mma fight was on new year's eve in 2006. Nakamura is wearing those tall boots used by some pro wrestlers back about a decade ago.
Round 1. Lowkick knockdown by Ologun. Nakamura latches onto a leg and gets Ologun to the ground where he would try for a kneebar. Ologun escapes and stands back up. Nakamura lands a right straight and closes the distance to a clinch and he would jump guard, pulling Ologun to the ground. Nakamura would transition into a textbook armbar that forces the mma novice Ologun to submit.
Overall, the fights were mostly exciting to watch. DREAM seems to like mixing up competitive contender fights with mismatches of unrivaled proportions. In the end it worked out as the event was fun from top to bottom. The event included 5 Submissions, 3 TKOs and 2 Decisions.
Fight of the Night...
Eddie Alvarez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri
PBP just cannot do it justice, check it out on youtube or find a replay on HDNet.
Submission of the Night...
Joseph Benavidez' Guillotine Choke
The next event is brought to you by EliteXC, who has a 1 hour block on Showtime featuring their Heavyweight Title fight pairing of Antonio Silva and Justin Eilers. Following that is their second showing on CBS featuring their Welterweight Title fight paring of Jake Shields and Nick Thompson and a rematch of their Middleweight Title between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith. Check out "Unfinished Business" this Saturday live from Stockton, California.