On Tuesday, Fighting and Entertainment Group held a press conference to announce seven fight cards that have been confirmed for the Dynamite!! 2009 on New Year's Eve.
Six of the seven announced cards are part of the "DREAM vs. SRC" series that are scheduled to comprise a total of seven to ten bouts and will be among the main highlights of the event.
They are as follows:
- Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Masanori Kanehara (Sengoku featherweight champion)
- Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Akihiro Gono
- Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Izumi
- Hideo Tokoro vs. Marlon Sandro
- Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Michihiro Omigawa
- Alistair Overeem vs. Kazuyuki Fujita
Additionally, a heavyweight K-1 match pits Ray Sefo against the PRIDE veteran and former World Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion, Yosuke Nishijima.
"Kid" Yamamoto initially requested a rematch with DREAM featherweight champion, Bibiano Fernandes, whom he bested in the previous encounter; however, an injury has prevented Fernandes from fighting in Dynamite!! and Kid voiced the wish to face the SRC champion in the inter-promotional fight card.
2009 has not been kind to the Japanese MMA icon. Upon returning from an injury-marred, seventeen-month-long hiatus in May, he dropped a split decision to the fast-rising former Greco-Roman world champion, Joe Warren at DREAM 9. To add insult to injury, he suffered a KO loss to an unheralded Korean K-1 prospect, Jae Hee Cheon in a K-1 bout in July.
Outside the ring, his personal life has also hit a rough patch with the dissolution of marriage to his supermodel wife. Despite announcing in August the plan to travel overseas for a training sabbatical, he opted to stay in Japan.
While he did not reveal the specific details regarding the training camp, Kid stated that the training has been fruitful. He is in a terrific shape and excited to fight on a New Year's Eve for the first time in two years.
Masanori Kanehara, who ascended from a tournament dark horse to champion in the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix earlier this year, expressed his gratitude in facing Kid, who is a "bigger name than the current DREAM champion."
Despite professing mutual respect and friendship, the Shooto/UFC/PRIDE veterans, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai and Akihiro Gono assumed a martial tone behind the mic.
Gono led the charge, stating, "Mach and I made our Shooto debut during the same year, but he has since gone so far ahead of me. But I believe that I have now surpassed him and want to affirm that I have been doing the right thing all along, before welcoming in the new year. I want to batter Mach so severely that he won't be able to speak."
Sakurai reciprocated by paying his respect to Gono and shooting back his opponent's words: "Gono and I have been friends for a long time, and thanks to his cornering me during the 1999 ADCC submission wrestling championship, I was able to earn a second place in the Open Weight division. Even though I am not a homosexual, I go on a date with Gono to shop for clothes and eat out. Never have I imagined fighting him but if it is a card the fans want to see, I cannot lose. I would like to batter Gono until he is unable to speak."
FEG president, Sadaharu Tanigawa revealed that he offered Alistair Overeem, Hong Man Choi, and Jerome LeBanner as potential opponents for the PRIDE and Sengoku veteran, Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita, who has been training in Los Angeles with Marco Ruas, expressed his wish to fight "Alistair Overeem, who is the best out of the three." FEG subsequently granted his wish.
Elsewhere, 2004 Olympic judo silver medalist, Hiroshi Izumi makes his second MMA appearance after suffering a KO loss to former kickboxer, Antz "Notorious" Nansen in his debut in September. Izumi, who thrilled the crowd by engaging in a valiant striking match in his debut, will take on a former pro wrestler, Katsuyori Shibata. The contract weight at which the bout will be contested is still under negotiation.
PRIDE/UFC veteran, Michihiro Omigawa, who has reeled off two controversial decision victories in his last three Sengoku fights, squares off with the WEC veteran, Hiroyuki Takaya. Omigawa, who is in the middle of a training camp, was absent at the conference: In the statement he delivered for the media, he stated that he and Takaya -- as the runner-ups in Sengoku and DREAM featherweight tourneys, respectively -- have nothing to lose and are willing to go toe to toe in a slugfest.
With 14 out of 18/19 hybrid K-1/MMA fight cards confirmed, the Dynamite!! 2009 will likely see the finalization of its line-up by the end of the week. Stay tuned to MMAmania for further news over the course of the week.