DREAM 6 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, is finally in the books. And when all was said and done Gegard Mousasi is the unlikely 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix Champion.
There were plenty of other exciting fights ... let's take a look at how it all went down.
The tournament reserve bout kicked off the event. Dong Sik Yoon was matched up with the winless (0-1) Andrews Nakahara in what looked to be a favorable match up for the Korean. But somebody forgot to tell Nakahara he was supposed to lose.
He escaped a few tight situations early on in the fight and he stayed busy with numerous kicks en route to a second round technical knockout win over the more experienced Yoon.
In the first of the two semifinal grand prix bouts, Mousasi worked relentlessly for the early takedown on the powerful striker Melvin Manhoef. Once he was successful getting the fight to the mat, he easily gained a dominant position, sinking in a quick triangle choke from there.
The Dutchman tried to power out of the hold, but only made matters worse on himself and was forced to tap out, putting an end to his impressive tournament run.
The second semifinal was almost identical to the first. "Jacare" Souza took his fight against Zelg Galesic to the ground almost immediately, and as usual, he dominated from there. It wasn't a minute and a half into the match before he was able to lock in a fight-ending armbar on the Croatian striker.
That meant the 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix Final would be Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi. And with the two quick finishes, both competitors would have plenty of gas left in the tank for the final.
A relatively uneventful match between Keita Nakamura and Adriano Martins opened up the non-tournament portion of the card. The Japanese faithful voiced their displeasure with plenty of uncharacteristic boos after watching the two men fight to a decision.
It was Nakamura who came out on top on the score cards after using a strong jab to win over two of the three judges for a split decision victory. Nakamura's jab was clearly the deciding factor. The decision should have been unanimous.
Either it was a mistake, or the one judge who scored the fight for Martins was watching a completely different fight.
Sergei Kharitonov was victorious over Jimmy "The Titan" Ambriz. Ambriz was just plain out matched in this one by the Russian heavyweight. Kharitonov dominated the stand up exchanges and eventually was too much for "The Titan," forcing him to tap from strikes two minutes into the first round.
Two seasoned veterans, Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa and Masakatsu Funaki faced off in a middleweight battle, but it didn't last very long. Funaki got put on his back right away to start the fight, but quickly capitalized from there by locking in a heel hook.
The fact that "Minowaman" was wearing wrestling shoes didn't help in his escape attempt and he had to submit only 32 seconds into the fight.
After the fight, WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko came into the ring and told the crowd that he wanted to fight Satoshi Ishii, but that the fight is not yet confirmed. He also said that he wanted the fight to be in Japan on New Year's Eve.
I wonder what Donald Trump and the Affliction boys think of that.
"Mach" Sakurai used his typical attack of hard kicks and big right hands to unanimously defeat Kuniyoshi Hironaka in their match. He was overpowering with his stand up. The leg kicks were insane.
He's a difficult man to deal with at both lightweight and welterweight.
"Mach" was at one time scheduled to face Nick Diaz on this card for the first-ever DREAM welterweight title, but Diaz had contractual obligations with Elite XC that prevented it from happening.
Yoshihiro Akiyama improved his record to (12-1) with a first round submission win over Masanori Tonooka. He pretty much did whatever he wanted in the fight.
Lightweight Grand Prix runner-up Shinya Aoki came into his fight as a humongous favorite (-2500) to beat Todd "Maniac" Moore. If you were looking to cash in on a possible upset of monumental proportions with the underdog Moore, it didn't happen.
Aoki submitted him in just over a minute.
The highly touted heavyweight showdown between Mirko Cro Cop and Alistair Overeem was eventful and painful. Both fighters landed hard shots on their feet early on. Overeem was able to get Mirko to the ground a couple of times and worked a little ground and pound, but for the most part there wasn't much action there.
Later on in the round Overeem landed at least three illegal knees to the groin -- one of which wasn't caught by the referee. After the last one Cro Cop was in obvious agony. The words that came out of Bas Rutten's mouth when the bout was getting waived off and called a no contest will haunt men around the world for a long time:
"We just got informed by Mirko Cro Cop's corner that his right testicle is inside."
Moving on ...
The main event and grand prix final ended with a highlight reel knockout from a Gegard Mousasi upkick. "Jacare" took the Armenian fighter down easily to start the fight. He was working from there and found himself standing in Mousasi's full guard.
Off his back Mousasi threw a hard upkick that landed right on the chin of Souza. The fight was over right there with "Jacare" out cold. And Mousasi raised his hand as the 2008 DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix Champion.
This was anther solid event for DREAM. The future is uncertain for the Japanese-based organization. Hopefully they can keep the ship afloat.