At a press conference held on Oct. 9 at Tsuyoshi Kohsaka-owned Alliance Square gym in Tokyo, DREAM event producer, Keiichi Sasahara announced two middleweight fights for DREAM 12, the first caged fight card in promotional history scheduled for Oct. 25 at Osaka Castle Hall.
Fresh off the loss to Remy Bonjasky at K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 last month, Melvin Manhoef (23-6-1) enters the cage against Mirko Cro Cop understudy, Zelg "Benkei" Galesic (9-4). Also, Manhoef's last DREAM opponent, Paulo Filho (18-1), makes his second DREAM appearance against Korean judoka, Dong Sik Yoon (4-7).
In his last MMA fight at DREAM 10, Manhoef suffered a submission loss against the resurgent Paulo Filho. Despite wobbling Filho early in the first round with his trademark blitzkrieg of punches, Manhoef ultimately fell short after the fight hit the mat.
His opponent, Zelg Galesic returns to competition after a year-long hiatus. A former Cage Rage Middleweight champion and veterans of PRIDE and Hero's, Galesic last fought at DREAM 6 in the semi-final round of DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix and lost to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza via first-round submission.
PRIDE veteran and former WEC Middleweight champion, Paulo Filho comes off two consecutive wins over Melvin Manhoef at DREAM 10 and Alex Schoenaur at Bitetti Combat in his home country of Brazil. He had experienced bouts with depression and addiction to prescription drugs that have led to his disastrous loss to Chael Sonnen in WEC last year. With the ordeal behind him, Filho looks to continue his winning streak against Dong Sik Yoon.
Currently on a three-fight losing streak, Yoon last suffered an anticlimactic TKO loss due to injury to TUF 8 alum, Jesse Taylor, at DREAM 10. Against Taylor, he injured his foot after his opponent shot for a takedown early in the first round. Prior to DREAM 10, he has dropped bouts to Andrews Nakahara and Gegard Mousasi.
Concurrent with the press conference, Katsunori Kikuno, who calls Alliance Square gym home, held an open workout in front of the media and offered his thoughts on the upcoming match against Eddie Alvarez at DREAM 12.
Expressing his confidence, Kikuno went so far to predict a first-round finish: "I can see myself knocking (Alvarez) out. I really do not see this fight going into the second round. If he comes out to bang, then the fight will be over in the first round -- I will knock him down immediately if he underestimates me."
Fighting inside a cage for the first time at DREAM 12, Kikuno showed no concern about transitioning from the ring to cage. His trainer and Japanese MMA legend, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka added that he will be able to chart his way to victory with his fighting style inside a ring or cage. His training for the Alvarez fight focused mainly on utilizing his strength of controlling his distance to look for a finish.
Kikuno, who has expressed his interest in fighting Shinya Aoki after his win over Andre Amade at DREAM 10, reiterated his desire in the wake of Aoki's rise to Lightweight throne: "Aoki has said that he wants to take a break, so I think he should give himself a rest for New Year's Eve. I do not have the credential yet, but would like to get a win on NYE and challenge him. If I knock out Alvarez, I would like to fight Tatsuya Kawajiri on NYE."
Sasahara responded positively to Kikuno's appeal and explained that Aoki vs. Kawajiri has not been officially confirmed for the "Dynamite!" Event on NYE. Since there is still time, DREAM will give Kikuno vs. Kawajiri a consideration should the fans voice their wish; however, Kikuno absolutely needs to get past Alvarez before such proposal takes shape.
Stay tuned to MMAmania as more bouts for DREAM 12 become finalized in the coming weeks.