Top Japanese promotion, DREAM, returns in a special event, "Fight for Japan" bantamweight tournament final tomorrow (July 16, 2011) morning at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.
The event will be held in support of Japanese tsunami victims.
Headlining the main event will be a featherweight title fight between top current champion Hiroyuki Takaya and the upstart suplex-master Kazuyuki Miyata. Fans can expect fireworks if this fight goes to the ground or in the standing clinch.
Another title will be defended on the card as DREAM light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi squares off against the challenging Hiroshi Izumi. Mousasi is not only the current DREAM champion but also the former Strikeforce 205 pound champ. He'll have his defensive wrestling tested by the aggressive and strong Izumi, who's ground and pounded his way to a four fight win streak.
The Dream bantamweight grand prix will also conclude with the tournament final between Masakazu Imanari and Hideo Tokoro. Both 135-pounders had to defeat two men in one night last May to get here and they'll be leaving it all in the ring.
Check out our complete DREAM preview after the jump:
145 lb. title: Hiroyuki Takaya (15-9) vs. Kazuyuki Miyata (11-7)
This is one of the most entertaining fights that could possibly be made outside of the UFC featherweight division. Hiroyuki Takaya has been on a roll in the dream featherweight division. His 2010 was one of the best in recent memory when he defeated former DREAM lightweight champion Joachim Hansen, former WEC featherweight champion Chase Beebe and capped it off by defeated then-Dream featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandez to win the title. He would go on to lose a controversial split decision to Roberto Peralta in his Strikeforce debut but he's back to defend his title for the first time.
Kazyuyuki's original claim to fame was getting absolutely blasted by Norifumi Yamamoto in four seconds back in 2006. Ever since he dropped down to featherweight, though, he's been on fire. The former Olympic freestyle wrestler has won six straight which includes victories over Caol Uno and Takeshi Inoue in his last two fights. Miyata has become famous for his incredible suplexes in his fights and he's very dangerous if he can get a body lock on his opponent.
This will be a battle of grappling, whether it's standing in the clinch or on the ground. Whoever is stronger in that portion of the fight will likely pull out a victory.
205 lb. title: Gegard Mousasi (30-3-2) vs. Hiroshi Izumi (4-1)
Talk about thrown to the wolves. Hiroshi Izumi won the silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics in Judo and made his MMA debut in 2009 for Sengoku. After losing his first career fight, he's rebounded nicely with four straight victories including an impressive third round TKO against Ikuhisa Minowa at Dynamite!! 2010 seven months ago. For his efforts, he'll now be squaring off with Gegard Mousasi, one of the best light heavyweights in the world.
Mousasi appeared to be unstoppable with his world class kickboxing and extremely dangerous submissions to go along with his black belt in Judo. That was, until Muhammed Lawal dethroned him and took his title in 2010. Since then, "The Dreamcatcher" has won the DREAM light heavyweight grand prix to become the 205 pound champion and he fought to a controversial draw against Keith Jardine this past April.
Mousasi has shown weakness to extremely strong top control grapplers in the past and Izumi has the credential to potentially take him down and keep him there but the Dutch fighter is so experienced that it is not likely to happen, at least not for three straight rounds. It will at least be an interesting stylistic match-up.
135 lb. Tournament Final: Masakazu Imanari (23-8-2) vs. Hideo Tokoro (29-23-1)
This fight should be highly entertaining. Hideo Tokoro has a reputation as one of the most exciting bantamweights in Japan. That style has also backfired repeatedly in the past, causing huge openings for submissions and knockouts.
Masakazu Imanari was the champion of DEEP's featherweight and bantamweight divisions. He's extremely dangerous and is constantly going for submissions, most notably forcing Kenji Osawa to tap out for the first time in seven years in the semifinals of the tournament just 45 days ago.
This is definitely Imanari's fight to lose. He'll just have to wait for an opening from Tokoro's wild aggression and capitalize.
This was some stellar matchmaking after Kawajiri's original opponent, Willamy Freire had to drop out with an injury. Drew Fickett was on a career resurgence, winning five straight fights via submission before a dramatic comeback loss to Brian Cobb at MFC 30 just over a month ago. Fickett possesses some of the nastiest submissions in the lightweight division, but his chin has begun to betray him. That happens naturally after 55 career fights.
Kawajiri is also coming off a loss, having recently been defeated by Gilbert Melendez in the first round while challenging for the Strikeforce lightweight title. "Crusher" did not look good in his American debut and he's hoping a return to his native Japanese soil will benefit him greatly.
The former Shooto welterweight champion has some insane power in both hands and is also adept at wrestling. Submissions aren't exactly his forte, but he's competent enough to hopefully withstand a ground attack from Fickett. This fight will hinge on whether Fickett can take this fight to the ground before he eats a big power shot. He did not react well to getting repeatedly punched in the face by Cobb and Kawajiri hits much, much harder.