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DREAM 5: Lightweight Grand Prix finals and a whole lot more

The Japanese-based DREAM mixed martial arts promotion recently announced the semifinal bouts for the final two rounds of its lightweight grand prix tournament slated for the Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan on July 21.

The remaining fights are Shinya Aoki (16-2) vs. Caol Uno (25-10-4) and Eddie Alvarez (14-1) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (22-4-2).

Like grand prix's of the past, the semifinal winners will compete in the finals the very same night, creating a sense of urgency in the opening round which (unlike domestic organizations) runs an exhausting ten minutes.

An early stoppage can leave a fighter fresh and fluid for a second battle. Yet a hard fought decision victory can leave that same fighter gassed before the finals even begin. Fortunately this is a lightweight contest and lightweight fighters traditionally have a better chance of maintaining their endurance.

Aside from the grand prix, Palace Fighting Championship (PFC) competitor Joseph Benavidez (7-0) will try and upset featherweight wrecking machine Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto (17-1).

The up-and-coming Benavidez last competed on May 8 at PFC 8 where he submitted the 3-8 Maurice Eazel via submission in the first round. Yamamoto on the other hand has been obliterating the competition since 2001 in both Shooto and K-1, with his lone loss coming from a cut he suffered against Stephen Palling back in 2002.

Also on the card, UFC and EliteXC headliner Nick Diaz (16-7) will fight PRIDE veteran Hayato "Mach" Sakurai (32-8-2) for the first-ever DREAM welterweight title - assuming Diaz doesn't end up in jail after street fighting with bitter rival KJ Noons prior to that.

DREAM 5 is also set to showcase the overdue rematch between Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (23-6-2) and K-1 superstar Jerome LeBanner (3-1-1). Cro Cop pulled out of his DREAM 4 grappling match against Ralek Gracie after suffering a minor knee injury so that he could devote 100% of himself to this bout.

Also scheduled to compete are Yoshihiro Akiyama (10-1) and Denis Kang (29-10-1), both against opponents yet to be named.

We'll have more on this developing card as it comes together.

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