Heading into his bout with fellow WEC veteran Chase Beebe at DREAM 12, the former WEC title challenger Yoshiro Maeda reveals the thoughts that have been coursing through his head.
From DREAM official:
"This fight (against Chase Beebe) is not really a stepping stone to the next step in my career. Rather, my survival in DREAM is at stake in the fight. If I win this fight decisively and pick up another victory, then I will be able to enter the top echelon of the division. Though I think a victory over Chase Beebe is impressive, regardless of the context of the fight, I don't think the fans will see it as such this time. I have said something to the effect of 'I want to fight for the fans' in previous appearances before media and during DREAM events. This time, though, I feel like I am fighting for myself. During training, I have felt the self-absorption well up inside me much more than usual -- like I want to put on a strong performance for myself. In a way, I have gone back to square one, career-wise: I have reflected on the aspiration that had blossomed in me before I started training in MMA. Back then, my aspiration was pure and simple -- to become a strong fighter. There are certain days when I am struck by the recollections and really evaluate what I have become. I feel like I am training hard to become the Yoshiro Maeda I had once aspired for."
Having developed into one of the premier lighter weight fighters in Japan during his reign as the featherweight King of Pancrase, Maeda has run into a rough patch as of late. After a fight-of-the-year-caliber performance in his loss to Miguel Torres in WEC bantamweight title bout at WEC 34, he suffered a first-round submission loss to Rani Yahya that led to his unceremonious exit from WEC.
After a sub-par decision victory over Micah Miller in the preliminary round of the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix, he was booted out of the tournament by the eventual finalist, Hiroyuki Takaya.
In his most recent outing, he earned an unremarkable DQ victory over Kleber Koike at DEEP - "Osaka Impact" in August. Training out of Osaka, Maeda will be the hometown favorite at DREAM 12 against Beebe. The hometown crowd will certain be an advantage, but it also raises the stake for him.
After suffering a TKO loss -- his third consecutive loss -- to Joe Warren in the preliminary round of the grand prix, Beebe most recently fought Mike Easton at UWC 7 to a controversial split decision loss that was recently overturned to No Contest.
In a bona fide survival match between two fighters who tasted bitter defeat in the featherweight tourney, Maeda and Beebe vie for a decisive victory to put an end to their recent streak of losses and uninspired performances.
Maeda also voiced his desire to fight at the Dynamite! event on NYE: "Fighting on the New Year's Eve card is kind of a milestone: I have always felt that I will be recognized as an elite fighter if I fight on the NYE."
For more on DREAM 12 click here.