Kazushi Sakuraba

Kazushi Sakuraba Returns at DREAM 11


Kazushi Sakuraba. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba has been penciled in as a last minute addition to the upcoming DREAM 11 card slated for this Tuesday at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

DREAM 11 will feature a lightweight title bout between Joachim Hansen and Shinyah Aoki along with the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix 2009 Final.

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Sakuraba-Tamura, Hansen-Calvancante Added to K-1 Dynamite!!


Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.

Fighting and Entertainment Group officials have announced two bouts that will take place at “K-1 Dynamite!! 2008” on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena: Japanese legends Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura will collide and DREAM lightweight champion Joachim Hansen will compete in a non-title rematch against Gesias Calvancante.

Sakuraba and Tamura will be meeting for the first time in their respective careers in a much-anticipated matchup for Japanese fans. Sakuraba recently had a three-fight winning streak snapped at the hands of Melvin Manhoef, who brutally stopped Sakuraba with strikes in the second round of DREAM’s inaugural middleweight grand prix.

Tamura meanwhile has won two out of his three bouts under the K-1/DREAM banner. He most recently competed at DREAM.2 in April, where he scored a quick, 57-second TKO of Pancrase icon Masakatsu Funaki.

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Aoki, Manhoef Advance to Grand Prix Finals


Shinya Aoki submitted former Olympic wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata with a modified gogoplata Saturday night at DREAM.4 in Japan. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Those who predicted an easy victory for Melvin Manhoef over Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event of DREAM’s latest effort Saturday night in Japan saw their thoughts become reality as Manhoef quickly smashed Sakuraba en route to an early first-round stoppage to move on to the finals of the organization’s inaugural middleweight grand prix.

The 14,037 in attendance at the Yokohama Arena saw Manhoef knock down Sakuraba with a right hand after stunning him with a head kick in the bout’s opening moments. Manhoef pounced on Sakuraba, who despite being able to pull guard, was unable to stop much of the punishment Manhoef was dishing out. Manhoef eventually transitioned to side control where he landed a number of unanswered hammer fists that forced the referee to jump in and save the longtime veteran.

“Sakuraba has been my hero, and he still is my hero. I’m sorry I had to beat him up for you,” Manhoef told the crowd after the fight. “I was prepared for 15 minutes, so it was my plan to start relaxed. But he wanted the takedown, and when he moved his head I caught him with a punch and then I kicked him. I knew when he went down, and we had practiced that, if he was in the ropes of the referee would stop and he could rest, that’s not what I wanted so I pulled him out from the ropes then punched again.”

In the night’s opening bout, grappling wizard Shinya Aoki submitting former Olympic wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata with a modified gogoplata from the mount position, a technique likely never seen before in a professional bout.

Aoki was able to sweep Nagata to the canvas early on in the bout but Nagata’s wrestling skills quickly allowed him to stand back up. Aoki then switched to a body lock and used surprising strength to muscle Nagata to the ground, where he quickly moved to mount after a scramble. After landing a couple of punches, Aoki attempted a failed guillotine before pulling off the gogoplata seemingly out of nowhere.

With the win, Aoki moves on to the finals of the promotion’s first-ever lightweight tournament where he will face former UFC contender Caol Uno. Philadelphia Fight Factory product Eddie Alvarez will take on tough wrestler Tatsuya Kawajiri in the other semi-final bout on July 21st in Japan.

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DREAM.4 Preview


Jason “Mayhem” Miller submits an alligator while posing for pictures during a pre-fight press conference for DREAM.4. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Japan’s DREAM.4 takes place this Sunday, June 15 and is headlined by the second round of the Middleweight Grand Prix. The event will be broadcast live tomorrow on HDNet at 4am ET.

Middleweight Grand Prix

There are four fights in round two with the winners moving on to DREAM.6 where a champion will be crowned.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Melvin Manhoef

Another Sakuraba fight, another opponent who could kill him in the ring. At 39, can Sakuraba stand in there and take another savage beating? Manhoef is one of the most intense strikers at 185 and you can guarantee he’ll get his shots in on Saku. But we know Melvin has his limitations on the ground, Sakuaraba’s bread and butter. I think there’s one think we can count on in this fight; it won’t be a decision. Before 15 minutes is up, either Sakuraba will get KO’ed or he’ll submit Manhoef.

Prediction: Melvin Manhoef

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DREAM MW Grand Prix Second Round Set


Jason “Mayhem” Miller scored a TKO win over Katsuyori Shibata to move onto the second round of DREAM’s inaugural middleweight grand prix, where he will face submission wizard Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Photo courtesy of FEG.

DREAM officials late last night announced the quarterfinal matchups for the organization’s inaugural middleweight grand prix tournament, of which the second-round will take place on June 15th at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba will go up against hard-hitting Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef in the night’s most high-profile tournament matchup. Sakuraba scored a first round submission of Karate practitioner Andrews Nakahara to move on.

Manhoef will be replacing longtime veteran Kiyoshi Tamura, who was forced to pull out of the tourney after suffering a broken finger in his last fight. Manhoef stopped Dae Won Kim with strikes in a tournament reserve bout earlier this month.

Additional second-round matchups announced include Gegard Mousasi vs. Dong Sik Yoon, Jason Miller vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Zelg Galesic vs. Taiei Kin in a rematch of their controversial K-1 Hero’s bout in October of last year.

Already previously announced for the event was a lightweight grand prix bout between tournament favorite Shinya Aoki and former Olympic wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata.

Aoki Decisions Calvancante; Sakuraba Moves on at DREAM


Shinya Aoki catches Gesias Calvancante in an armbar. Photo courtesy of FEG.

A little more than a month after fans were left with a disappointing ending to a March matchup between Gesias Calvancante and Shinya Aoki, it was Aoki that finally came away the victor in one of the most-anticipated lightweights contests in recent memory earlier this morning in DREAM’s second-ever show.

The first fight between the two was ruled a no-contest after Calvancante struck Aoki with illegal elbows to the back of Aoki’s neck. Calvancante was warned and Aoki given time to recover, but after a few moments the esteemed grappler wasn’t able to continue. The two were also originally set to face off at Yarennoka! on New Year’s Eve but Calvancante was forced to pull out of the fight after suffering a knee injury during training.

Aoki quickly pulled guard at the start of the fight and negated any sort of offense his opponent tried to mount. However after stomping his way out of a heel hook attempt, Calvancante pounced on top of Aoki and began raining down an array of strikes, prompting the referee to give an even closer look at the action. Aoki was able to recover and eventually get back to his feet where he ended up taking Calvancante’s back and controlling him for the remainder of the round.

The second round saw Aoki pull Calvancante to the canvas once again and then quickly catch him in an armbar that nearly ended the fight. Calvancante was able to flip out of the hold and even scored with some ground and pound before Aoki went for another couple of armbars. Aoki transitioned into an inverted omoplata during the final minute of the fight, solidifying his win on the judge’s scorecards.

Aoki’s next opponent in just two weeks will now be former Japanese Olympic wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata according to DREAM officials.

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Three Bouts Announced for DREAM MWGP


Kazushi Sakuraba. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Fight Entertainment Group has announced the first three bouts for the organization’s upcoming middleweight grand prix first round, which will currently take place on April 29th at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Despite recent rumors that a healing cut on his leg would prevent him from competing at the event, Japanese mixed martial arts legend Kazushi Sakuraba will return to action against Karate practitioner Andrews Nakahara.

Sakuraba bounced back from a unanimous decision loss to Royce Gracie in June with consecutive wins over Masakatsu Funaki and Katsuyori Shibata. Nakahara will be making his professional debut.

Funaki will also be competing in the tournament, taking on fellow veteran Kiyoshi Tamura. While Funaki’s loss to Sakuraba on New Year’s Eve was his first fight in over seven years, Tamura has remained fairly active in recent years. He was last victorious over Hideo Tokoro on December 31st as well.

Former PRIDE middleweight grand prix runner-up Denis Kang has been confirmed as fighting in the tourney. He will take on Hardcore Championship Fighting veteran Gegard Mousasi.

Mousasi is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, which has saw him finish his last six opponents. Kang has struggled as of late, losing two out of his last three bouts, including a brutal knockout at the hands of Yoshihiro Akiyama in October.

Additional fighters confirmed as participating include Akiyama, Ikuhisa Minowa, Dong Sik Yoon, Shungo Oyama, and Taiei Kin.

K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! Live Results

We will be going live at 1:00 AM EST with live results of K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!!, which is taking place at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan

The event is headlined by a main event between long-time Japanese veterans Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki. Bob Sapp, “Kid” Yamamoto, Melvin Manhoef, and Ikuhisa Minowa will all be in action as well as annual Dynamite!! participants Bobby Ologun and Kiyoshi Tamura.

Be sure to leave comments throughout the morning.

Live results are shown after the jump.

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Break It Down: Yarennoka! & K-1 Dynamite!!

John Chandler here again, breaking down Yarennoka! and K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! fight-by-fight, including detailed predictions along the way.

Yarennoka! features the return of Fedor Emelianenko as he takes on K-1 kickboxer Hong Man Choi. The undercard includes Gilbert Melendez going up against Mitsuhiro Ishida and Kazuo Misaki battling with Yoshihiro Akiyama.

K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! features an astounding total of 13 fights - 7 MMA bouts and 6 kickboxing matches. (I’ll only be previewing the MMA fights) The event is headlined by a main event between long-time Japanese veterans Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki. Bob Sapp, “Kid” Yamamoto, Kiyoshi Tamura, Melvin Manhoef, and Ikuhisa Minowa will all be in action.

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K-1 Dynamite!! Pre-Fight Conference Notes

When Alfred Tennyson wrote “ring out the old, ring in the new,” the English poet was referring to the pealing of church bells to mark the beginning of a new year. It is also a Japanese tradition to strike the temple bell on December 31, but these days Tennyson’s phrase could just as easily be applied to the ringside bell at the Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve fight-sport extravaganza.

Over the last five years, K-1 Premium Dynamite!! has become one of the most widely-watched television productions in Japan, with estimates of up to 30 million viewers. This is fight-sport entertainment for the entire family, and tomorrow’s lineup is designed for maximum appeal. The evening’s 15 fights will feature wily veterans and wide-eyed teens; popular television “tarento” and foreign behemoths; and yes, more than a few match ups aimed at martial arts purists.

Seven bouts will be fought under Hero’s Rules (mixed martial arts), and eight under K-1 Rules (stand-up).

The Dynamite!! 2007 fighters met with the media this afternoon at the Osaka Imperial Hotel, to share their thoughts in advance of tomorrow night’s Kyocera Dome showdown.

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