DREAM

DREAM Announces Three Bouts for Grand Prix


Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Fight Entertainment Group has announced three bouts for the upcoming inaugural event of the newly-formed DREAM promotion, which will take place on March 15th at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

The event will be highlighted by the first round of a lightweight grand prix, which is highlighted by a previously annnounced, long-awaited showdown between Shinya Aoki and Gesias Calvancante, who were booked to face each other at Yarennoka!. The bout was scrapped after Calvancante re-injured his recently surgically repaired knee during training.

The opening round of the tournament will pit Tatsuya Kawajiri against Kultar Gill, Joachim Hansen against Kotetsu Boku and Luis Firminho against Kazuyuki Miyata in separate bouts. There are a total of seven opening-round fights scheduled to take place in all. The remaining fights will be announcing in the coming days.

Other fights currently being advertised as participating in the tournament include Andre Dida, Caol Uno, Bukyung Jung, Artur Umakhanov, Gilbert Melendez, and Mitsuhiro Ishida.

The promotion, which will also be run by officials involved with Yarennoka! and promoted by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, will now serve as the official successor for the PRIDE and K-1 Hero’s brands. K-1 announced plans for the discontinuation of Hero’s events late last month.

UFC, Cro Cop Split Ways… For Now?


Mirko Cro Cop is introduced before his bout against Josh Barnett at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute 2006. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Immediately after Mirko Cro Cop jettisoned to Japan to become part Fight Entertainment Group and Dream Stage Entertainment’s combined “DREAM” effort, rumors began to circulate that his departure from the Ultimate Fighting Championship was either totally positive or completely negative.

Speculation that the UFC asked the Croatian to either restructure his contract or that they would release him can be put to rest now according to MMA Weekly, who after speaking with UFC President Dana White have found that Cro Cop’s departure was amicable on both sides and could only be temporary.

“I have a lot of respect for Cro Cop and I like him,” White told Ken Pishna. “He wants to win the UFC title really bad. He is going back to Japan and taking some tune-up fights and wants to come back and prove himself in the UFC by the end of the year. I wish him the best of luck and hope to see him back.”

So it seems that this is just a classic case of a fighter taking a break from the UFC so they can fight in smaller shows to gain experience and get their confidence back a la Sean Salmon and Marcus Davis, right?

Maybe, maybe not in my opinion. As you can see in White’s quote, he wasn’t very definitive as to whether or not it was a sure-fire thing that Cro Cop would return. At the same token, Cro Cop’s comments about not liking the cage very much at the DREAM press conference the other day weren’t very forthcoming either.

“I don’t want anyone to think that I’m running away from the UFC but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my career lately and right now I believe DREAM is the right place for me,” said Filipovic. “I never liked fighting in the cage, always in a ring. Japan is also like my second home. Many reasons have brought me back here.”

There’s been a lot of varying opinions over the past couple of days regarding Cro Cop and I have to say that all of them are correct in different ways. MMA Junkie points out that Cro Cop now has a chance to rematch Fedor , who is expected to fight for the promotion at some point.

Sam Caplan of Five Ounces of Pain feels that Cro Cop’s departure for the UFC is a win from both sides and that he doesn’t expect Cro Cop to return to the Dana White-headed promotion unless he defeats Emelianenko.

FEG and DSE Combine to Create “DREAM”


Photo courtesy of FEG.

Rumors that Fight Entertainment Group and Dream Stage Entertainment were working together to create a new mixed martial arts promotion were confirmed earlier today as officials from both sides gathered at the Metropolitan Edmont Hotel in Tokyo, Japan to announce the creation of “DREAM”.

The promotion, which will also be run by officials involved with Yarennoka! and promoted by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, will now serve as the official successor for the PRIDE and K-1 Hero’s brands. K-1 announced plans for the discontinuation of Hero’s events late last month.

“Now that PRIDE and Hero’s are gone, we’ve wanted to put on new mixed martial arts shows that would continue the dream that was achieved on New Year’s Eve,” FEG President Sadaharu Tanikawa stated at the press conference. “We wanted to create a show that would be enjoyed by the fans and would make for an exciting live event. We received a petition including over 3,000 signatures from fans who requested that we find a replacement for PRIDE. We’ve answered their calls and we plan to put together something that no one has ever seen before.”

Matchmaker Keiichi Sasahara’s first order of business will be putting together the promotion’s first card, which will apparently feature a lightweight grand prix. The only announced bout for the event was a long-awaited showdown between Shinya Aoki and Gesias Calvancante, who were booked to face each other at Yarennoka!. The bout was scrapped after Calvancante re-injured his recently surgically repaired knee during training.

Additional participants for the tournament that were also announced included the following: Andre Dida, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Caol Uno, Joachim Hansen, Gilbert Melendez, Kotetsu Boku, Artur Oumakhanov, Luiz “Buscape” Firmino, Jung Bu-Kyung, and Kazuyuki Miyata.

The event is currently slated to take place on March 15th at the Saitama Super Arena. Five other events including the remainder of the lightweight grand prix and a middleweight tournament were also announced.

The biggest surprise of the day came when heavyweight star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was introduced on stage. The native Croatian was recently under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he had lost two of his last three bouts, including a brutal knockout at the hands of Gabriel Gonzaga.

Filipovic assured fans that he was not “running away” from the UFC, but simply doing what was best for his career.

“I had a hard time losing my last two fights in the UFC,” said Filipovic. ” I don’t want anything to think that I’m running away from the UFC but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my career lately and right now I believe DREAM is the right place for me. I never liked fighting in the cage, always in a ring. Japan is also like my second home. Many reasons have brought me back here.”

The UFC has yet to make a public statement about the UFC’s departure. Various rumors concerning Filipovic’s contract status with the promotion have been floating around lately. Some have speculated that the UFC asked the Croatian to either restructure his contract or that they would release him. MMA Weekly reports that sources have said the split between the two sides was amicable.

Aside from Filipovic, a number of potential participants in future events were revealed. Kazushi Sakuraba, Kiyoshi Tamura, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai are all expected to be fighting inside the promotion in the coming months. Royce Gracie and Fedor Emelianenko also appeared via satellite to make their intentions to compete at a future event known.

So how do the weight classes break down?

Surprisingly, they are strikingly similar to those that are currently used in the United States. The heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight classes are exactly the same. Welterweights will compete at a maximum of 168 lbs while lightweight will be capped off at 154 lbs. Plans for lower weight classes are said to be discussed in the future.

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