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DREAM 5 recap: Joachim Hansen steals the show to become 2008 Lightweight Grand Prix winner

joachim hansen
DREAM 5 capped off a huge weekend of mixed martial arts around the globe.

With most of the hype surrounding the Affliction pay-per-view (PPV) and the UFC event on Spike TV, it seemed like the DREAM card, which featured the conclusion of the lightweight grand prix, wasn't getting the recognition it deserved.

However, after watching all three events I'm not sure if the DREAM event wasn't the best of the three.

The tournament -- to this point -- had been highlighted by the fight of the year candidate in the quarterfinals between Eddie Alvarez and Joachim Hansen, as well as the submission mastery from Shinya Aoki. There were a lot of people who thought the winner of that great quarterfinal fight had a great chance to win the whole tournament even though Aoki was still maintaining his position as the favorite.

What nobody expected was for an eliminated fighter to actually be the one who would be crowned the champion when everything was all said and done.

Here's how it played out.

Aoki won his semifinal bout against journeyman Caol Uno by unanimous decision. He used a strong jiu-jitsu attack, throwing nearly every submission attempt in the book at Uno. To Uno's credit, he defended everything nicely, but his lack of an offensive attack clearly led to his demise in the eyes of the judges.

The other side of the bracket featured Eddie Alvarez against Tatsuya Kawajiri -- a completely different style fight. Both of these guys like to bang ... and bang they did. This was a back and forth all out war. Each fighter was pushed to his limit and both guys looked to be close to defeat more than once. But in the end it was Eddie Alvarez -- the dark horse from Philadelphia -- who landed the last flurry that ended the tournament for Kawajiri.

It was just another crowd pleasing performance from Alvarez and it looked as though he'd be in the finals against Aoki. But his night took an unexpected turn and his tournament was brought to a disappointing end when a cut he sustained from one of the many Kawajiri punches swelled his eye almost completely shut, causing the doctor's to force his withdrawal.

What had started off as a great night of fights abruptly turned into a total feeling of disappointment.

However, with Alvarez now out, there still had to be an opponent for Aoki in the final. The show had to go on. Strategic planning by the Japanese promotion had Joachim Hansen and Kultar Gill competing in an alternate match just in case.

Hansen was able to weather an early storm from the "Black Mamba" and he locked up an armbar midway through the first round. After the win "Hellboy" found himself suddenly right back in position to win the tournament. Winning that title was not going to be easy though. He would have to avenge a first round submission loss to Aoki from a couple years ago in order to do so.

Ever the opportunist, Hansen was not going to let a second chance to win this tournament go by. He made quick work of Aoki even after getting taken to the ground almost immediately after the opening bell. His strength and power proved to be a problem for the submission artist, as Hansen pounded him out for a technical knockout win just a little over four minutes into the match.

Eddie Alvarez was one of the first guys in the ring to congratulate Hansen, and a the newly crowned champion respectfully announced his first defense would be against the Philadelphia native.

Alvarez vs. Hansen II -- sign me up for some of that!

The rest of the card was littered with numerous quality submissions. Not allowing elbows to the face on the ground takes the submission game to a whole new level. I'm still not sold either way as far as the rules go, but I really enjoyed watching all the submissions tonight.

Mark Hunt fell victim to one of those submissions in his return to the ring after nearly a two year absence. Alistair Overeem -- who was fighting on three days notice -- easily secured a shoulder lock less than two minutes into the fight. Hunt still has that massive power, but he clearly had some ring rust. Perhaps this win will mean Overeem will get the match against Mirko Cro Cop he's been begging for the last couple of months.

That would be an exciting fight to watch if Cro Cop is ever healthy enough to actually fight.

Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Hideo Tokoro, Joseph Benevidez, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Daisuke Nakamura were all impressive in victories as well. Hironaka was coming off losing three of four in the UFC and Benevidez is a Urijah Faber trainee who moved his professional record to 8-0.

All in all, I was impressed with the event tonight. Despite the disappointment of Alvarez being forced out of the finals, this was still a fun card to watch. I can't even imagine how sick it would have been had Denis Kang, Nick Diaz, "Mach" Sakurai, "Kid" Yamamoto and Cro Cop all competed as originally planned.

I think these events are only going to get better and better, starting with DREAM 6 which will feature the conclusion of the middleweight grand prix.

Can't wait!

For DREAM 5 results and blow-by-blow coverage click here.

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