DREAM 16: Shinya Aoki vs Tatsuya Kawajiri possible for upcoming July event


DREAM's top lightweights may finally have an opportunity to cross their fists this summer.

A source close to the organization has informed MMAmania.com that the long-awaited grudge match between current lightweight champion Shinya Aoki and bitter rival Tatsuya Kawajiri is "possible" for DREAM 16 in July.

The date of the event will be determined shortly when Fighting and Entertainment Group's TV partner, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) finalizes its schedule for the summer.

The match has been in the making for a long time. Kawajiri emerged as a top lightweight contender in the Japanese promotion when he defeated the American Top Team standout, Gesias Cavalcante at DREAM 9 last May. He has been lobbying earnestly for a title shot since then.

When Aoki wrested the lightweight belt from Joachim Hansen at DREAM 11, Kawajiri immediately called out the newly minted champion. Aoki initially appeared evasive about answering the challenge and facetiously deflected Kawajiri's plea; however, he later welcomed the fight when it was scheduled for the New Year's Eve on Dynamite!! 2009 fight card.

Their NYE showdown unraveled when DREAM and Sengoku Raiden Championship joined forces on a short notice for a merged fight card. At Dynamite!! 2009, Kawajiri grinded out a decision victory over SRC lighweight contender, Kazunori Yokota.

On the same night, Aoki took one home for DREAM with a gruesome, arm-breaking submission victory over SRC lightweight champion, Mizuto Hirota, and became a lightning rod for controversy with his post-fight antics.

There is no word yet on whether the lightweight title will be on the line for Aoki-Kawajiri, even though it obviously befits the occasion.

Aoki will make his USA and Strikeforce debut on April 17 on Strikeforce's CBS fight card against the promotion's lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez.

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