Photo via Dream
Dream "Fight for Japan", which aired from the Saitama Super Arena Hall in Saitama, Japan yesterday (May 29, 2011), is officially in the books. The event was initially mistakenly announced as Dream 17, but that event won't take place until July. The event was not televised live in North America but will be available this Friday (June 3, 2011) on HDNet.
Consensus top 10 lightweight Shinya Aoki, after potential match-ups with Jamie Varner, Antonio McKee and Shane Nelsen fell through, settled for UFC veteran Rich Clementi in the main event of the charity show.
This was a motivated Aoki intent on showcasing some ground and pound skills. The Japanese submission master took "No Love" down and attempted to beat his face in from mount for much of the first round. Clementi weathered the assault from Aoki and avoided enough damage to survive the round.
That wasn't the case in the second as Aoki swiftly took the Louisiana native down, passed to back mount. After more ground and pound failed to force the stoppage, the jiu-jitsu ace latched on a face crank to force the tap at the midway point of the round.
There were several other exciting finishes on the card as well as some controversy.
The night opened with the first round of the Dream bantamweight tournament, with four quarterfinal fights. Masakazu Imanari, Kenji Osawa and Yusaku Nakamura advanced with no problems but the bout between Yoshiro Maeda and Hideo Tokoro had a rather unfortunate conclusion.
Maeda started the second round with an apparent injury and Tokoro just piled it on by misfiring on a body punch that hit him square in the groin right after the opening bell. Maeda writhed in pain for the full alloted five minutes and tried to show his warrior spirit by limping to his feet and continuing the match. His corner threw in the towel after a takedown attempt from Tokoro made Maeda cry out in pain.
The main card, which served as an intermission between the quarterfinals and semifinals of the bantamweight tournament, opened with a hotly contested match between Joachim Hansen and Mitsuhiro Ishida. Both men traded submission attempts, suplexes and strikes all the way to the final bell. Hansen was a little more aggressive with his attempts to finish the fight and he was awarded a split decision victory by the ringside judges.
Hansen continues to rebound after a rough three fight losing streak that stretched from late 2009 to 2010. He's now won three fights in a row and he's tentatively slated to take on WEC veteran Jameel Massouh later this year.
Katsunori Kikuno and Caol Uno both used superior wrestling and jiu-jitsu to score unanimous decisions over Daisuke Nakamura and Akiyo Nishiura respectively. Uno and Kikuno both aggressively worked for takedowns in their matches and dominated the fight with positional top control and ground and pound.
Lastly on the main card, Takeshi Inoue defeated a slightly over-matched Koichiro Matsumoto via strikes. Matsumoto absorbed a ton of punishment including big knees from the clinch as well as some nasty leg kicks that slightly staggered him. The finishing touch in the first round was a huge straight right hand from Inoue that dropped his Japanese counterpart and set up a ground and pound finish.
The night closed with the semifinals of the bantamweight tournament. Atsushi Yamamoto took on Hideo Tokoro in a hotly contested match. Neither man showed much of a sense of urgency in a very close first round but the second had all the action. Tokoro shot in and flattened his opponent with a big takedown and both men traded sweeps and dominant positions all the way until the final bell. When it was all said and done, Tokoro was awarded a split decision victory.
The final match of the night's tournament was a stylistic match-up between Kenji Osawa's striking and Masakazu Imanari's submissions. Imanari repeatedly took the fight to the ground, even if it meant working off of his back while Osawa defended and tried to mix in punches and kicks. Osawa held his own in the first round but Imanari finally trapped him in his clutches with a dangerous heel hook that forced a quick tap in the beginning of the second round.
Hideo Tokoro and Masakazu Imanari will both face each other in the tournament finale later this year.
In case the memo was missed, the event will finally air on HDNet this Friday (June 3, 2011).