Japan’s Fighting & Entertainment Group (FEG) has finalized their 'DREAM 8' event with the addition of Vitor Ribeiro (19-2) vs. Katsuhiko Nagata (4-4-1) to the April 5 card from the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan.
"Shaolin" has been out of action for quite some time and hasn't competed since 'K-1 Hero’s 10' in September of 2007. He would end up being the victim of a quick and thorough beatdown courtesy of Gesias "JZ" Calvacante.
The punishment received in that bout would result in a detached retina that required surgery and has kept Ribeiro on the sidelines ever since.
Now he 'eyes' a return to action and will meet Olympic Greco-Roman silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata.
Though being an Olympic caliber wrestler is an impressive feat, Nagata hasn't made the greatest of transitions into mixed martial arts. That could be because he was thrown into the deep end, meeting the likes of Yoshihiro Akiyama in his second pro fight.
But this bout is likely to serve as a tune-up fight for Ribeiro who is coming off the long layoff. Also important to note that Nagata's ground skills are nothing to write home about. His last effort for DREAM would see him become part of the growing Shinya Aoki highlight reel, victimized by a mounted gogoplata back at 'DREAM 4' last June.
Now he faces another ground expert in four-time CBJJ Mundials winner Riberio -- which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in the competitiveness of this bout. Still, it's nice to see a shining talent like "Shaolin" make a much needed return.
'DREAM 8' will also play host to the promotions Welterweight Tournament, which will see the long awaited rematch between Shinya Aoki (20-3) and Hayato Sakurai (34-8-2).
If that weren’t enough, DREAM fans will also be treated to the much-anticipated return of Russian gladiator Sergei Kharitonov. The 16-3 'Kharit-top' was the last man to beat the surging Alistair Overeem when he knocked him out at K-1 Heroes back in 2007.
The Russian made his DREAM debut a memorable one when he smashed Jimmy Ambriz at 'DREAM 6' last September.
Facing him is UFC veteran Jeff Monson, who recently phoned it in against Roy "Big Country" Nelson at 'March Badness' stealing a controversial unanimous decision victory over his corpulent foe.
"The Snowman" (28-9) is a dangerous submissions specialist despite going the distance in some recent fights.
In his first trip to Japan since the demise of PRIDE, Murilo "Ninja" Rua will make his debut for DREAM against Korean judoka Dong Sik Yoon (4-6) after Strikeforce reportedly opted to pass on his acquired EliteXC contract.
"Ninja" (16-9-1) hasn’t competed since a TKO loss to Benji Radica at "Heat" last October for the now-defunct organization.
Also in action are featherweights Hideo Tokoro and Daiki Hata, who will conclude the opening round of the 2009 Featherweight Grand Prix that was held at DREAM 7.
"DJ.taiki" needed the extra month to recover from a recent eye injury, thus pushing his bout with Tokoro to April 5.
Here is the official card for DREAM 8:
Sergei Kharitonov (16-3) vs. Jeff Monson (29-8)
Ikuhisa Minowa (41-29-8) vs. Katsuyori Shibata (2-6-1)
Andrews Nakahara (1-1) vs. Shungo Oyama (7-11)
Murilo Rua (16-9-1) vs. Dong Sik Yoon (4-6)
Vitor Ribeiro (19-2) vs. Katsuhiko Nagata (4-4-1)
Welterweight Grand Prix:
Shinya Aoki (20-3) vs. Hayato Sakurai (34-8-2)
Andre Galvao (2-0) vs. John Alessio (24-12)
Yuya Shirai (15-7) vs. Jason High (6-1)
Marius Zaromskis (8-2) vs. Seichi Ikemoto (18-14-5)
Featherweight Grand Prix:
Hideo Tokoro (21-15-1) vs. Daiki Hata (10-5-3)
An encore presentation of the event will air stateside on HDNet on April 10. For more on DREAM 8 click here.