The day after the first caged fight card in promotional history, the winners from DREAM 12 gathered at a hotel in Osaka for a post-fight conference.
The public reaction to the newly unveiled cage and the broad implication of caged fight card held by a major Japanese organization will likely become evident in weeks and months to follow.
For the time being, the immediate assessment of the cage -- and the event on a whole -- by those directly involved has been positive.
On the promotional side, DREAM event producer Keiichi Sasahara is pleased that DREAM 12 delivered a night full of thrilling action and capped off the year on a high note before the annual Dynamite! event on New Year's Eve. Surrounded by a horde of reporters after the press conference, he jokingly remarked that DREAM might consider having another caged fight card on the NYE.
The fighters also seemed eager to fight again in the white, hexagonal cage if given the opportunity.
Alistair Overeem stated that he loves the color of the cage. Marius Zaromskis also chimed in, commenting that white is a color that brings fortune and a refreshing change from the black cage typically found in North America and UK.
Meanwhile, Eddie Alvarez, a veteran of several caged promotions, elaborated on the finer details of fighting in the new cage: He felt that, compared to the cages used by UFC and other American promotions, DREAM's cage was more elastic, thus tempering the fear of injury from being pressed against it. Also, the spring in the cage magnifies the advantage of those who know how to utilize it in grappling.
Katsunori Kikuno, who fought in the cage for the first time in his loss to Alvarez, commented in the post-fight interview that he likes the animal ferocity that the cage awakens in the fighters: "The whole vibe is unlike anything you would feel at a sports event -- it sharpens my senses and gets my blood boiling."
WEC veteran, Yoshiro Maeda also preached to the choir by giving his two cents: "The cage was really spacious and I did not feel an ounce of stress while fighting in it. I hope that DREAM uses the cage more often."
Kazushi Sakuraba, who submitted Zelg Galesic with a knee bar after being battered repeatedly in the face, was rushed to a hospital immediately after the fight in order to seek medical attention. Besides the swelling on the side of the head, the hospital examination turned up no injury to Sakuraba's brain or skull. His opponent, Galesic, who was bound to a wheel chair after the fight, also suffered no significant injury besides a minor tear on the ligament in his knee.
Sakuraba confessed that the beating Galesic meted out was quite painful and that he even thought about tapping out.
While Sakuraba is usually an obvious choice of marquee name to grace the ring on the New Year's Eve, his appearance in Dynamite! remains in question, considering that he has fought twice in a span of less than a month at DREAM 11 and DREAM 12. Should he decide to fight on NYE, Sasahara promised a fight with a grand theme. As for the potential opponent for the "Gracie killer" in the mega-fight, he mentioned "The Third-Generation Gracie fighters."
Rolles Gracie, who has recently signed with UFC; Roger Gracie, who has defeated veterans, Ron Waterman and Yuki Kondo in his first two MMA fights; Ralek Gracie who has fought at DREAM 4.
These are among the new generation of the fabled clan that will now receive the torch borne by the likes of Rickson, Royce, Royler, and Renzo. Sakuraba has made his name in Pride FC as "Gracie killer" and if the younger members of the family step up to avenge the losses suffered by the elders and defend the family honor, the "revenge drama" promises an epic hype.
Maeda, Katsuyori Shibata, Marius Zaromskis, and Alistair Overeem all voiced their eagerness to appear on the NYE event.
From Keiichi Sasahara (DREAM event producer):
"I am relieved that we managed to stage all the fights without any accident. I was honestly nervous since this was our first caged fight card that the cage might break at some point during the night. There is a general impression that cage is not very spectator-friendly, and I indeed felt that while watching the fights. Nonetheless, I believe that we have succeeded in introducing a 'Japanese cage' that is different from the cages used elsewhere in the world after incorporating numerous modifications to the cage for spectator-friendliness. Our goal was to incorporate the best of both worlds (ring and cage). I would like to leave the final judgment to the fans."
For our complete DREAM 12 recap click here.