UFC 104: "Machida vs. Shogun" is not the only major mixed martial arts show set to go off this weekend -- DREAM 12 is scheduled to take place at Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 25.
It will mark the first time ever that a major Japanese MMA event will take place inside a cage. DREAM 12, which will feature a trio of champions, is set to air exclusively throughout North America on HDNet, beginning at 2 a.m. ET on fight night.
Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Allistair Overeem, Bellator Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and DREAM Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis are all slated to compete at DREAM 12. In addition, the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba is booked to take on Zelg Galesic, former WEC Bantamweight Champion Chase Beebe will battle Yoshiro Maeda, and former WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho is set face Yoon Dong-Sik.
It's going to be a fun early morning of fights to say the least. And to get you pumped for the festivities we put together a quick DREAM 12 preview of the top fights on the card.
Let's get cracking:
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Zelg Galesic
The Japanese MMA icon, Kazushi Sakuraba, returns to the ring for the second time in a month to replace Melvin Manhoef against Zelg "Benkei" Galesic. At DREAM 11, Sakuraba came back from a 10-month hiatus to breeze through the former professional boxer and MMA debutant, Rubin Williams. Galesic also makes his return to the ring after a long layoff. He last fought in DREAM 6 in September of last year in a losing effort against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in the semifinal round of the promotion’s middleweight tournament.
Like fellow Croatians Mirko Cro Cop and Branko Cikatic, Galesic is known for his striking. An ITF Taekwondo fourth degree black belt, he captured the middleweight title in now defunct Cage Rage promotion before fighting in K-1 Hero’s, PRIDE and then DREAM. Besides striking, Galesic has also shown a flash of submission prowess against Curtis Stout and Taiei Kin; however, his submission defense remains a question mark, as he has proven vulnerable against accomplished grapplers such as Jacare, Dong Sik Yoon and Makoto Takimoto. This does not bode well against the "IQ Wrestler," Sakuraba, who is known for his submission artistry and valiant effort against hard-hitters who outweighed him by 20 pounds or more. For Sakuraba, Galesic should be a good measuring stick of how much fight he has left, given his age and wear-and-tear.
Yoshiro Maeda vs. Chase Beebe
The two WEC veterans square off to vie for a compelling victory. Blame it on Miguel Torres, but both fighters seek to snap their recent streak of losses and uninspired performances that started with their losses to the former WEC bantamweight champion.
Both fighters fought in the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix. While Maeda defeated American Top Team prospect, Micah Miller, before falling to the eventual finalist, Hiroyuki Takaya, in the quarterfinal, Beebe suffered a deflating technical knockout loss to former Greco Roman world champion, Joe Warren, in the preliminary round. Beebe fought earlier this month against Mike Easton for UWC bantamweight title, losing a controversial split decision that was later overturned to "no contest." Prior to the bout, he was on a three-fight losing streak.
This potential fight-of-the-night candidate pits two scrappy fighters against one another. Maeda has demonstrated his striking prowess against opponents with a variety of stylistic stripes: He excels at piecing together crisp, punch-kick combinations. For all his aggression, however, his defensive liabilities have been his downfall in his seven career losses, all of which have come by technical knockout or submission. Before stumbling into current slump, Beebe kicked off his career in a high gear, running through his opposition with aggressive wrestling, complemented by his go-to finishing moves of rear naked and guillotine chokes.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Katsunori Kikuno
Eddie Alvarez returns to DREAM after his successful run in the first season of the Bellator Fighting Championship. He had a breakthrough run in DREAM Lightweight GP, dispatching Andre Amade, Joachim Hansen, and Tatsuya Kawajiri. In his last DREAM appearance on last NYE, he fell to Shinya Aoki via heel hook. He now brings his brand of explosive boxing-wrestling combo against the Tsuyoshi Kohsaka protégé, Katsunori Kikuno.
Kikuno, who has cut his teeth in Japanese promotion, DEEP, where he captured the lightweight title, made a successful DREAM debut against Andre Amade at DREAM 10. A dedicated practitioner of Kyokushin Karate, he has turned heads with his crescent kick, which is rarely utilized in MMA. Against Alvarez, he looks to utilize his footwork and kicks to keep his opponent at bay and exploit the smallest of openings to land a finishing blow.
Marius Zaromskis vs. Myeon Ho Bae
The DREAM welterweight champion, Marius Zaromskis, returns to action for a non-title bout after his surprising breakthrough in the welterweight tournament. A Cage Rage veteran who trains out of London Shootfighters, Zaromskis entered the grand prix as a virtual unknown and considerable underdog: He sent a shockwave through the MMA world by upsetting tournament favorite, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, in the semifinal round with a high-kick technical knockout before dispatching Jason High with high-kick yet again to snatch the inaugural DREAM welterweight title.
His opponent, South Korean prospect Myeon Ho Bae, is a veteran of MARS, M-1 and DEEP. He possesses a background in wrestling and has won seven of his last eight fights. Still an unknown quantity, Bae has an opportunity to gain instant recognition by upsetting Zaromskis.
Paulo Filho vs. Dong Sik Yoon
The resurgent Paulo Filho returns to DREAM to take on the slumping Dong Sik Yoon. After his ignominious loss of WEC middleweight title to Chael Sonnen and end of the undefeated run, Filho receded from the scene to recover from his bouts with depression and prescription drug abuse. Seemingly healthy and back in form, he submitted Melvin Manhoef at DREAM 10 and defeated Alex Schoenaur by decision at Bitetti combat in his native Brazil.
Yoon started his MMA career with 0-4 record in PRIDE before evening his win-loss column. Since then, however, he has suffered another losing streak, dropping bouts to Gegard Mousasi, Andrews Nakahara, and Jesse Taylor. In his last fight against Taylor at DREAM 10, he suffered a leg injury in the first round that rendered him unable to continue.
An underrated talent whose losing record does no justice to his actual potential, Yoon is known for his signature "dongbar," which he used to earn three of his four victories. He will face another stiff challenge in Filho; he may surprise Filho with his submission savvy, but is much more likely to fall prey to Filho’s stifling top control.
Alistair Overeem vs. James Thompson
Alistair Overeem has been keeping himself busy lately, fighting in K-1, Golden Glory’s 10th anniversary event, and now, DREAM. In other words, anywhere outside Strikeforce, or the United States, more specifically. His puzzling refusal to make the first defense of Strikeforce heavyweight title has stoked the suspicion of the use of a banned substance. Aside from the controversy, he has seen success in the ring. He comes off the first-round submission of Tony Sylvester at Ultimate Glory 11: "A Decade of Fights" only a week ago. Last month, he successfully outworked the grizzled K-1 elder statesman, Peter Aerts, in the K-1 World Grand Prix.
James Thompson, on the other hand, has seen his career plummet since the dissolution of PRIDE. He has lost four consecutive fights, with all the losses coming via KO. He incurred one of the losses against Kimbo Slice in an infamous Elite XC bout in which his giant cauliflower ruptured into a bloody mess. Most recently, he was knocked out by "Big" Jim York in Sengoku earlier this year. As a last-minute nominee for Overeem’s opponent, it looks like he may become a fodder for another highlight-reel knockout – effectively pulverizing his chin and allowing Overeem to pad his resume and "heal his right hand" before making his putative return to Strikeforce in 2010.
Kuniyoshi Hironaka vs. Won Sik Park
UFC veteran and newly minted Cage Force lightweight champion, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, returns to DREAM. After an unsuccessful UFC run during which he defeated Forrest Petz but fell to Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves and Jonathan Goulet, he picked up a win/loss pair in DREAM. Since then, he has dropped down from welterweight to lightweight and been on a three-fight winning streak. In his last fight, he fought for the vacant Cage Force lightweight title, previously held by Sengoku lightweight champion, Mizuto Hirota, and earned the first title of his career with a first round technical knockout.
The reinvigorated Hironaka faces South Korean prospect, Won Sik Park, who has been on an eight-fight undefeated streak in DEEP, MARS, and M-1 since losing in his debut. A taekwondo practitioner, long-limbed Park possesses aggressive striking and competent grappling. A winner of numerous grappling competitions in his native Korea, he has only gone the distance twice in his nine-fight career.
This bout looks to be a competitive one, as Park seeks to maintain his momentum against a veteran fighter in Hironaka. Hironaka is known for his submission skills, judo-bred throws and heavy hip, and ground-and-pound. With his move down to the lightweight division, he has also found power in his strikes, as evident in his last two fights -- technical knockout victories over Katushiko Nagata and Yoshihiro Koyama.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa
Katsuyori Shibata recently snapped his losing streak with a unanimous decision victory over Ikuhisa Minowa at DREAM 8. His opponent and fellow pro-wrestler, Tokimitsu Ishizawa, returns to MMA for the first time in nearly three years. A veteran of now defunct K-1 Hero’s and PRIDE, Ishizawa notched the most significant victory of his career in 2000 when he defeated the outlaw of Gracie clan, late Ryan Gracie.
Keisuke Fujiwara vs. Tomoya Miyashita
Fujiwara, a featherweight ZST prospect, makes his leap to the big stage to take on DEEP veteran, Miyashita. Fujiwara has risen through the ZST ranks and made a name for himself as a hard hitter. Miyashita has earned most of his victories by submission: His weapon of choice is guillotine choke, which he boasts as the best among all Japanese fighters. He has won four of his last five fights.
That's a wrap, Maniacs.
Remember that DREAM 12 will begin early morning Sunday (Oct. 25) at 2 a.m. and air LIVE on HDNet. An encore presentation is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 30 at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Of course, MMAmania.com will provide the latest DREAM 12 results and provide a detailed recap of all the action as soon as it concludes. In the meantime, feel free to share your DREAM 12-related thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.