Alavutdin Gadzhiyev

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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Gracie Added as DREAM.4 Injury Replacement


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.

Visa Issues Knock Ferreira Out of DREAM.4


Alexandre Ferreira. Photo courtesy of the International Fight League.

Rising IFL light heavyweight Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Alavutdin Gadzhiyev at DREAM’s upcoming fourth event this weekend in Japan due to visa issues.

Ferreira’s manager, longtime veteran Mario Sperry, confirmed Ferreira’s troubles to Sherdog.com.

Ferreira was set to enter the match riding a five-fight winning streak. He was victorious in his IFL debut back in February, submitting American Top Team product Lew Polley with a guillotine choke just twenty seconds into their fight.

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.

DREAM officials have yet to formally announce the cancellation of the bout and it’s still unknown at this time whether or not a replacement opponent for Gadzhiyev will be able to be found in time.