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.
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.
There are four fights in round two with the winners moving on to DREAM.6 where a champion will be crowned.
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
Ralek Gracie grapples with Katsuyori Shibata. Photo courtesy of FEG.
Ralek Gracie, who was originally slated to take on former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in a modified-rules grappling match at this weekend’s DREAM.4 event in Japan, will now serve as a last-minute replacement opponent for Pancrase veteran Alavutdin Gadzhiyev.
DREAM officially announced the change at a press conference yesterday.
Gracie has not competed since submitting Katsuyori Shibata at a K-1 Hero’s show last July. Filipovic was forced to withdraw from the grappling match after aggravating an elbow injury during a recent training session.
The cancellation likely comes as a precaution for Filipovic’s scheduled showdown against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s scheduled July 21st show in Japan. It’s been widely speculated that the Croatian had suffered multiple nagging injuries over the last few months and now wants to time to heal them before the LeBanner bout.
Sporting a current record of 7-1, Gadzhiyev hasn’t lost a fight since dropping a decision to Sergey Burdalenko in his first career bout. Gadzhiyev has spent the last year or so under the Pancrase banner, most recently knocking out colorful veteran Hikaru Sato in March.
Gadzhiyev was originally matched up against IFL light heavyweight Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira, who was unable to compete at this weekend’s event due to visa issues.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.
Former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has reportedly withdrawn from his upcoming grappling match against Ralek Gracie at DREAM’s June 15th affair after aggravating an elbow injury during a recent training session.
The news comes from a report by Croatian news site Dnevnik.
The cancellation likely comes as a precaution for Cro Cop’s slated showdown against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s scheduled July 21st show in Japan. It’s been widely speculated that the Croatian had suffered multiple nagging injuries over the last few months and now wants to time to heal them before the LeBanner bout.
He and Gracie were being advertised as competing in a modified rules grappling match, which would have gone on without a scoring system, meaning that if either fighter was unable to submit the other, the match would end in a draw.
Cro Cop most recently stopped Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno with strikes in the first round at DREAM’s inaugural show back in March. Meanwhile, Gracie has not competed since submitting Katsuyori Shibata at a K-1 Hero’s show last July.
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated…
- We are planning on posting an updated MMA on Tap Top 10 at some point this week.
- If you haven’t already, be sure to check us out on myspace.
- K-1 Hero’s and their parent company FEG held a press conference on Tuesday announcing two additional bouts and a new opponent for Ikuhisa Minowa.
Kazushi Sakuraba will be fighting at the event on September 17th but it won’t be against rumored opponent Denis Kang. Instead Sakuraba will be taking on Katsuyori Shibata. Also announced was a middleweight bout between PRIDE veterans Zelg Galesic and Dong Sik Yoon.
Ikuhisa Minowa will no longer be taking on Ralek Gracie as Gracie was forced to pull out of the bout for undisclosed reasons. Minowa will now face Kevin Casey, who will be making his professional MMA debut.
- So the real reason why Andrei Arlovski isn’t being booked by the UFC has finally been revealed - He only has one match left on his contract and the UFC won’t use him until he signs an extension.
Steve Sievert of The Houston Chronicle comments:
The big Belarusian is currently on the UFC sidelines because he has only one match left on his contract. As we know (see Brandon Vera), the UFC doesn’t make key bouts with a fighter who could be on his way out of the organization. After talking with Joe Silva last weekend, that’s actually a possibility.
While the UFC matchmaker stopped short of saying the organization doesn’t need the former heavyweight champ, comments such as “where else is he going to go” and the contract “has to make sense for us” send a clear message as to who has the upper hand in the ongoing negotiations. The UFC won’t book Arlovski until the contract issue is resolved.
Arlovski (11-5) wants a big payday. However, the harsh reality is he’s a mediocre 2-2 in his last four and just hasn’t been impressive since 2005. A year ago, the UFC couldn’t afford to let Arlovski walk. Today, the heavyweight division has ample fire power, and doesn’t need Arlovski to make big fights.
- Cub Swanson has announced via his myspace page that his fight with Jens Pulver has been rescheduled for November 3rd.
Fighting Jens Pulver in WEC November 3rd at the Hard Rock in Vegas. Pulver had a knee injury so we had to push the fight back.
- Sam Caplan wants people to stop stealing content from his site. You let me know if it happens again Sam, I’ll take them out…
We have a lot of stuff to report this morning…
News and Notes
- EliteXC has announced a total net loss of $11.9 million between January and June 2007 according to UFC Mania.
- IFL heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski has announced that he has joined Dan Henderson’s Team Quest in order to continue with his training…
- FEG formally announced three bouts for the upcoming K-1 Hero’s event on September 17th. The semifinals of the 2007 154 lb tournament will roll on when Caol Uno takes on Kultar Gill and Gesias Calvancanti goes up against Vitor Ribeiro. Ikuhisa Minowa and Ralek Gracie will compete in a non-tournament bout.
- Cage Fury Fighting Championship’s October 12th event will feature the return of Ricardo Almeida. Almeida’s opponent will be Dennis Hallman.
- American Top Team has stated that Denis Kang is expected to sign with an organization in the next few weeks and is targeting September as a possible date of return.
- Palace Fighting Championships has announced that Justin Levens will fight Kenny Ento for the vacant PFC World Middleweight Championship on October 18th:
“These are two of the most popular and intense fighters to ever compete in the Valley,” Printup said. “Levens has faced tougher competition, but Ento is an extremely tough match up. He’s tall, rangy, has excellent submissions and underrated stand up. Levens is an absolute animal, who has only lost to top-level fighters.”
- The IFL Finals on September 20th in Hollywood, Florida will now feature two superfights as well as the IFL Championship. Seth Petruzelli and Rolles Gracie Jr. will meet in a light heavyweight bout. Aaron Riley and Ryan Schultz will clash in the night’s other superfight.
- The weigh-ins for UFC 74 will begin at 6 PM EST and will start to be broadcast on ESPNEWS at 7:15 EST. As always, they will also be available to watch online for free on a slew of sites, including UFC.com, Yahoo! Sports, and MSN.
- Tickets for UFC 77: Hostile Territory are slated to go on sale starting on August 22nd…