Sports Navi is reporting that featherweight superstar Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto will not be ready in time to fight in the upcoming DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix scheduled for this March.
Yamamoto (17-1) is in the midst of a 14-fight win streak, but has been plagued with injuries that have kept him on the sidelines since demolishing Rani Yahya at K-1 Premium Dynamite in December 2007.
He was expected to make his DREAM debut last July to face undefeated featherweight prospect Joseph Benavidez at DREAM 5. However three days before the fight while in training he attempted a flying knee maneuver and landed awkwardly on his right leg. This resulted in a partial tear of his anterior ligament that has kept him out of action ever since.
"Kid" has stated that as of right now, he is only training lightly and doesn't want to get back into action too soon as it could aggrevate his injuries. He also mentioned a March return is highly unlikely, meaning he will miss the opening round of the DREAM featherweight tournament.
FEG will likely keep a place for him in a possible reserve bout further along in the tournament, should he recover prior to the finals.
This is definitely not a good start for DREAM in 2009. Yamamoto would have no doubt been one of the main attractions of their featherweight tournament, which could of helped with the declining ratings they’ve recently faced.
That said, they only have a short amount of time to pack the tournament with more stars and familiar faces. It could be a pretty tall order with both rival Sengoku and newly created Bellator FC also planning to hold featherweight tournaments early this year as well.
In it’s own right, the 145 lb class is a division with a deep talent pool. Unfortunately, a lot of that talent lacks the drawing power of someone such as Yamamoto. With two other mixed martial arts organizations scrambling for the best featherweight stars, it could be slim pickings for FEG.