The fight card for DREAM 17: "Fight for Japan 2" completed last night (Sept. 23, 2011) at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The lineup was filled with match-ups that were sure be crowd-pleasers, featuring a multitude of high profile names and Japanese mixed martial arts (JMMA) legends.
Instead, it ended up being Aoki who tested McCullough. The test involved seeing how far he could crank his neck before McCullough would finally tap.
Many expected this to be an easy victory for Aoki. Many were right.
McCullough found himself in bad positions the majority of the first round, before Aoki was finally able to get him to tap to a very nasty neck crank at 4:52 of the first round.
Here's a look at the rest of the action:
This one was all about takedowns.
"Hellboy" had zero answers for Kawajiri's takedowns, as "Crusher" put him on his back in this fight, almost at will.
Kawajiri was able to use his takedowns to get and keep dominant top position for the majority of the fight. At 2:30 of the final round, Kawajiri was able to use his position to get Hansen in an arm-triangle choke, forcing him to tap.
It's sad to see, as defending the takedown seems to be an obstacle which Hansen is simply unable to overcome.
He coulda been a contender.
Uno looked to show the MMA world that he's still got what it takes to make some noise as he faced off against "Lion" Takeshi Inoue.
Uno tried several times to take Inoue down, but was unsuccessful. On top of not being able to notch the takedowns, Uno also ate punches and kicks each time he made attempts.
Inoue was too fast and had massively better stand-up. Uno was match.
Finally, with a little less than a minute to go in the first round, Inoue caught Uno with brutal head kick, causing his head to bounce off the canvas, sending Uno into unconsciousness.
Unfortunately for Uno, it looks as though the clock may have run out for him.
As most fans will recall, Sakuraba's last match ended with a doctor stoppage at Dynamite!! 2010 on New Year's Eve of last year in a fight versus Gegard Mousasi. Sakuraba's ear was grotesquely hanging from the side of his head. Certainly, that's not how he wants to be remembered.
Cabral appears to be not much for sentiments as he spent much of this fight beating up Sakuraba and, to be blunt, exposing him as a fighter who really needs to call it a day.
Sakuraba continually tried to pull Cabral, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) specialist who has won all of his fights by submission, into his guard. It was an odd strategy that ended poorly as Cabral was finally able to use an arm-triangle choke to make Sakuraba tap at 2:42 of round two.
Live by the sword, die by the sword.
It's an odd state of affairs for old-school MMA fans and fighters. Chuck Liddell has a desk job now. Randy Couture makes bad action movies. Fedor Emelianenko has been relegated to fighting the Jeff Monson's of the world. Wait. Nevermind. Fedor actually is fighting Jeff Monson. How could I forget? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Hopefully, Sakuraba has a back-up plan too. It's always sad to see a legend limping out of the ring.
There's an unwritten rule in JMMA that goes something like this: "If you're not from Japan and you're fighting a Japanese fighter in Japan...don't let it go to a decision."
Not that MMA judges anywhere are winning trophies these days for their merit, but in Japan, it's been particularly bad. Sadly, the Japanese scoring has become famous for their hometown bias and ridiculous decisions.
After three very close rounds, it looked as though Friere probably earned the nod, stuffing nearly every takedown attempt of his opponent and seeming to get the better of him on the feet.
American judge Matt Hume scored in his favor. Surprise, surprise. The two Japanese judges did not.
Moving right along.
In the final frame, Harris was able to take down Nakamura, who looked gassed by this point, pretty much whenever he wanted to. Somewhat controversially, Nakamura could be seen grabbing the ropes to help defend against the takedowns and possibly keep himself in the fight. No penalty was given to Nakamura.
Harris won the fight by split decision.
The fight hardly could have been any closer. Both fighters had their moments, heading into the third round, which proved to be where Banuelos was able to set himself apart.
Again, it was a story of takedowns and an inability to defend them. Banuelos used his wrestling to control his opponent in the final round and win a very close split decision.
There's not a whole lot to say about Bibiano Fernandes' fight against Takafumi Otsuka. It was violent. It was short.
In only 41 seconds, Fernandes was able to avoid a barrage of punches, get his opponent to the mat and sink in a rear-naked choke. Otsuka didn't even get a chance to tap. He was out before he knew what was happening.
Fernandes showed why MMA fans are hopeful that they may see him fighting under the Zuffa banner some time soon.
Cullum had a very difficult weight cut and it clearly had an effect on him. That aside, Imanari looked fantastic and the fight would have probably gone in this fashion, regardless.
This was essentially a grappling exhibition. An exhibition that Marques won at every turn. He will now move on to the next round of the DREAM bantamweight tournament.
The match was an "open weight" contest, a loophole that Harn seemed to take far more advantage of than did "Minowaman."
Harn came in 60-plus pounds heavier than did Minowa and looked to use that advantage by rushing him early in the fight. Minowa weathered the storm, was patient, and eventually used his far superior ground game to earn the victory.
DREAM is alive. For now, anyway.
Here are the complete DREAM 17: "Fight for Japan 2" fight results:
Shinya Aoki def. Rob McCullough via submission (neck crank) at 4:52 of round one
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Joachim Hansen via submission (arm-triangle) at 2:30 of round three
Takeshi Inoue def. Caol Uno via KO at 4:17 of round one
Yan Cabral def. Kazushi Sakuraba via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:42 of round one
Satoru Kitaoka def. Willamy Freire via split decision
Gerald Harris def. Kazuhiro Nakamura via split decision
Antonio Banuelos def. Hideo Tokoro via split decision
Bibiano Fernandes def. Takafumi Otuska via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:41 of round one
Masakazu Imanari def. Abel Cullum via submission (armbar) at 0:46 of round three
Rodolfo Marques def. Yusup Saadulaev via unanimous decision
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Baru Harn via submission (scarf-hold armbar) - R1, 4:39