DREAM 13 preview and analysis for HDNet televised event

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DREAM will hold its inaugural event of 2010 on Monday, March 22 at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

The event will air live on HDNet in North America on Sunday midnight/early Monday morning (make sure to call in sick for work come Monday).

DREAM 13 is headlined by a featherweight title bout between the reigning champion, Bibiano Fernandes, and the former top flight lightweight and debuting featherweight, Joachim Hansen.

The event also features the DREAM debut of former Elite XC lightweight champion, KJ Noon, resurgent bantamweight, Cole Escovedo, and the embattled UFC/Pride/Affliction veteran, Josh Barnett.

Fight-by-fight breakdown of the card after the jump.

KJ Noons vs. Andre "Dida" Amade

Hard-hitting lightweights square off in a fight that promises fireworks. Former Elite XC lightweight champion, KJ Noons trades boxing gloves for the four-ounce gloves for the first time in nearly two years in his DREAM debut. His last MMA fight took place in June 2008 when he defended his Elite XC title against Yves Edwards. In his return to MMA, he faces an opponent who does not pose any threat in the grappling department and obliges him where he thrives.

Chute Boxe Academy/Universidad de Luta member, Andre "Dida" Amade is currently on a three-fight skid. While he faced stiff competition in Gesias Cavalcante, Eddie Alvarez, and Katsunori Kikuno in his last three fights, he does not get a break with Noons.

Given the long hiatus, there is a question regarding how Noons will re-acclimate to MMA. He faces an opponent with brawler's instinct and his boxing pedigree confers him an advantage in technique and overall polish in striking; however, Dida's reach and power pose palpable threat, especially given the likelihood of a flush knockout with the compact MMA gloves.

The lethal weapon in Dida's arsenal is his wild, looping right hand that has floored Alvarez, Kikuno, and Buakaw Por Pramuk (in K-1 MAX bout). Competing in boxing may have sharpened Noons' punching technique and power, but likely have not prepared him for Dida's unorthodox punches.

If the fight turns into a brawl, Dida will be in his domain. In order for Noons to win, he must use his superior techniques to pick apart Dida and look for an opening to nail in a finishing blow. Though it is a coin flip, I predict Dida to stun Noons with his trademark hook/overhand right.

Amade via TKO

Josh Barnett vs. Siala "Mighty Mo" Siliga


The "Affliction grim reaper" (as Jesse Holland calls him) and stigmatized former UFC heavyweight champion, Josh Barnett returns to competition for the first time since his steroid fiasco led to the cancellation of a super fight against Fedor Emelianenko at "Affliction: Trilogy." In his DREAM debut, which was hastily arranged on short notice, he faces former boxer and K-1 fighter, Siala "Mighty Mo" Siliga.

Nothing much can be said about the competitiveness of the match. While Barnett may not have fought since January 2009, he was a number-two ranked heavyweight in the world prior to the scheduled bout against Fedor. Also, he has kept himself busy with pro-wrestling gigs and No-Gi grappling competitions so he should be in a decent shape. "Mighty Mo," on the other hand, boasts a paltry, 3-1 record in his professional MMA career thus far with victories over mediocre competition. Needless to say, he has no real chance against Barnett, save a puncher's chance.

Barnett via destruction


Ryo Chonan vs. Andrews Nakahara


Pride and UFC veteran, Ryo "Piranha" Chonan returns to the big stage after a less-than-stellar stint in UFC. After incurring losses to Karo Parisyan, Brad Blackburn, and TJ Grant in UFC, he returned to his former stomping ground of DEEP and bested fellow Pride veteran, Jutaro Nakao in August last year.

Japanese-Brazilian kyokushin karateka, Andrews Nakahara returns to MMA after a year-long layoff for his welterweight debut. When he made his MMA debut in April 2008 at DREAM 2, he was thrown into the deep end of a shark tank and faced the MMA legend, Kazushi Sakuraba. Since losing the debut against Sakuraba, he earned back-to-back TKO victories over judokas, Dong Sik Yoon and Shungo Oyama.

Nakahara has shown flashes of potential when he demonstrated surprising takedown defense against Yoon and Oyama. The long layoff, however, does not bode well for his fledgling career. The gap in experience between him and Chonan notwithstanding, he has yet to face a fighter who is not afraid to strike and push the pace against him.

While Chonan looked sluggish in his offense during his UFC tenure, he is still a savvy fighter who can pose a challenge to any welterweight. Expect him to apply constant pressure and put Nakahara through a MMA clinic in striking, clinch, and on the ground.

Chonan via decision

Minowaman vs. Jimmy Ambriz

The fan favorite and now the rightful "Super Hulk," Minowaman returns to his giant-killing way against Jimmy "The Titan" Ambriz.

At Dynamite!! 2009, Minowaman scored a big upset with a TKO victory over Sokoudjou and sent the crowd at Saitama Super Arena into frenzy. Former King of the Cage Super Heavyweight champion, Jimmy Ambriz, comes off a TKO victory over Chris Clark at Midwest Fighting Championships after a three-fight skid against Jeff Monson (twice) and Sergei Kharitonov.

Ambriz's sheer size and raw power may help him overcome Minowaman's unpredictable offense and slick submission prowess; however, triumphing over hulking, heaving masses twice his size is Minowaman's modus operandi and there is no reason to doubt that he will add Ambriz to his collection of slain giants.

Minowaman via submission (Knee Bar)

Yoshiro Maeda vs. Cole Escovedo

Yoshiro Maeda closed 2009 on a strong note with a redemptive victory over Chase Beebe at DREAM 12 after a string of uninspired performance. Cole Escovedo, who makes his DREAM debut, also has shown strong performance lately after overcoming a bout with career-threatening affliction that shelved him for three years: The inaugural WEC featherweight champion is on a four-fight winning streak and was recently crowned the Palace Fighting Championship bantamweight champion.

Maeda thrives on picking his opponent apart with speedy, crisp striking combination. While Escovedo is no slouch in the striking department, Maeda's multiangular attack should present considerable threat for the "Apache Kid." For his aggressive striking and slick submission prowess, Maeda has shown defensive lapses that have victimized him against Rani Yahya, Hiroyuki Takaya, Charles Bennett, among others. Against a proven finisher and wily submission artist like Escovedo, a careless mistake can be fatal for Maeda.

Another tough fight to call - as long as Maeda does not fall into Escovedo's submission trap, his dynamic striking will carry him one step closer to DREAM featherweight title contention.

Maeda via Decision

Katsunori Kikuno vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka

A lightweight tilt between the champions of two Japanese organizations pit Katsunori Kikuno, the DEEP representative, against Kuniyoshi Hironaka, the Cage Force representative.

Kikuno, kyokushin karateka with one of the most unique stances in MMA and creepy smile, had his winning streak snapped by Eddie Alvarez at DREAM 12. UFC veteran, Hironaka, on the other hand, has been on a roll as of late. Since dropping to lightweight, he has earned four consecutive stoppage victories and was recently victorious in his shootboxing debut.

As a former welterweight, Hironaka has a decisive size advantage. While he has always been known for his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prowess and ground-and-pound, his recent fights attest to his improved striking. His best chance of victory lies in forcing Kikuno down to the mat to exercise top control and look for submission. Getting his hands on Kikuno, however, will be a challenge.

Kikuno is adept at controlling the distance with his repertoire of kicks and possesses deceptive speed and reflex. Judging by Hironaka's struggle and tenativeness to close the distance in his last fight against Won Sik Park, Kikuno will frustrate him with his crafty offense. As well-rounded as Hironaka has become in his recent fights, Kikuno will stymie him in the striking exchange, eventually earning a TKO victory.

Kikuno via TKO

DREAM Featherweight title match: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Joachim Hansen

Shooto and Pride veteran, Joachim Hansen looks to terrorize a lower weight class after an illustrious career as a lightweight. Despite having always been an undersized lightweight, he nonetheless holds notable victories over the likes of Takanori Gomi, Yves Edwards, Caol Uno, Luiz Azeredo, Shinya Aoki, and Gesias Cavalcante. In his featherweight debut, he gets an opportunity to make an immediate impact against the newly minted DREAM Featherweight champion, Bibiano Fernandes.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu phenom, Bibiano Fernandes ascended from a tournament underdog to champion in DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix last year. After dispatching Takafumi Otsuka and  Masakazu Imanari, he quickly submitted Joe Warren and edged Hiroyuki Takaya in a gutsy slugfest to earn the tournament gold.

He suffered his two career losses against arguably the top two featherweights (at the time of the fight), Urijah Faber and Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto in his second and third professional fights, respectively. Besides his vaunted BJJ pedigree, Fernandes demonstrated cast-iron chn and unbreakable spirit in his fight against Takaya. With his belt on the line, he likely will bring the same toughness against Hansen.

Hansen is clearly the superior striker; Fernandes may stun him with an occasional haymaker, he probably will absorb multiple strikes and wing several loopy punches in the process. As a BJJ whiz, Fernandes will most certainly try to force the fight to the ground with takedown or guard-pulling.

While he has shown slick grappling against Kid Yamamoto and Joe Warren, he has also struggled to mount effective offense on the ground against Takafumi Otsuka - whichever Fernandes shows up come fight time, submitting or controlling Hansen on the ground will be no easy task.

Look for Hansen to pick Fernandes apart in the striking exchange en route to a decision victory.

Hansen via decision

Remember to check back tomorrow (March 21) for the DREAM 13 weigh in results and early Monday morning for live event results.

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