Gegard Mousasi. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
HDNet will broadcast exclusive coverage of “HDNet Fights Presents: OLYMPIA DREAM 9 Featherweight Grand Prix, 2nd Round 2009,” early Tuesday morning, May 26, at 12:00 a.m. PT LIVE from the esteemed Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa, Japan.
MMA fans can catch former MLB slugger Jose Canseco who will be making his mixed martial arts debut in the open weight competition entitled the “Super Hulk” Tournament vs. 7-foot-2 and 330-plus pound Hong-Man Choi from Korea.
Gegard Mousasi, Mark Hunt, and Bob Sapp will also compete in first round action in the “Super Hulk” tournament. DREAM 9 will also feature the second round of its Featherweight Grand Prix including a highly anticipated bout between Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Joe Warren, plus Jason “Mayhem” Miller meets Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the vacant DREAM Middleweight Title.
Jose Canseco. From pokerwire on Flickr.
Everyone loves a good freak show fight every now and then. That’s why there has been so many of them. Sure, they’ve been almost exclusive to Japan, but that’s because the Japanese enjoy them the most. No sense in moving them anywhere else.
DREAM seems willing to pick up where PRIDE Fighting Championships left off and has booked former MLB slugger Jose Canseco to be part of their first-ever “Super Hulk Tournament”. Why? DREAM desperately needs a ratings boost and Canseco needs the money. It’s a perfect match for the two.
In turn, many have expressed worry about Canseco, who in terms of combat sports only has two amateur boxing matches to his credit - a brutal TKO loss to former NFL player Vai Sikahema and a lackluster draw against celebrity reject Danny Bonaduce. Even the king of freak show bouts, Bob Sapp, is worried:
“He could get seriously injured,” said Sapp, who was as shocked as anyone when Canseco’s name was announced for the tournament. “Hong-man Choi [who once knocked out Sapp in a kickboxing match] is a lot bigger. [Canseco] got knocked out by a football player. I think it’s being put together because it’s a good opportunity for Choi to get more popular by beating up a famous American celebrity.”
Canseco has been adamant in saying that nothing is official in regards to his participation in the tournament. He’s been slotted to face Hong-Man Choi in the tourney’s first round. Unfortunately, Choi is the easiest draw for Canseco. If Gegard Mousasi or Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou get their hands on him, we could have some serious trouble. Here’s to Canseco putting his health before his wallet and withdrawing his name from the event before he gets himself seriously hurt.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.
Here are your quick hits for the afternoon of April 23, 2009.
— Fighting and Entertainment Group announced today a previously rumored middleweight title rematch between colorful veteran Jason “Mayhem” Miller and skilled grappler Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for DREAM.9, which will take place on May 26 at the Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa, Japan. The two originally met at DREAM.4 in June of last year, where Souza won a unanimous decision over Miller in the quarterfinals of the promotion’s inaugural middleweight tourney. [DREAM]
— The official demo for UFC 2009 Undisputed was released today. From the UFC’s official website: “Want to re-live Shogun Rua’s stirring UFC 97 win over Chuck Liddell or turn the tables and lead “The Iceman” to victory? Now’s your chance, as the long-awaited demo of UFC 2009 Undisputed is now available for immediate download on XBox Live and coming later today to the Playstation store.” [UFC.com]
— Continuing to expand internationally, the UFC could reportedly next find itself in the land down under. The organization is said to be interested in potentially holding a February 2010 event at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia. The arena, which holds up to 21,000 spectators, has reportedly been contacted about the possibility. [Fighters Only Magazine]
Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
A rematch between former DREAM middleweight grand prix tournament competitors Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jason “Mayhem” Miller is reportedly possible for DREAM.9, which is currently slated to take place at the Yokohama Arena in Japan on May 26.
The news comes from a report by Tatame.com. Souza and Miller originally fought in the second round of DREAM’s inaugural middleweight grand prix, where Souza earned a decision over the colorful Miller.
A second fight between the two next month would apparently be for the now vacant DREAM middleweight title as champion Gegard Mousasi has opted to forego his belt in order to move up to the light heavyweight division.
Brandon Vera. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A light heavyweight bout between Muay Thai expert Brandon Vera and “Ultimate Fighter 3” standout Matt Hamill will likely take place at UFC 101, which is slated to take place on August 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both fighters have agreed to the bout and the paperwork is expected to be finalized in the coming days. [MMA Madness]
Two-time K-1 Hero’s middleweight tournament champion Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante has reportedly agreed to face Japanese veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri at DREAM.9 on May 26. Cavalcante has not fought since dropping a unanimous decision to Shinya Aoki in the first round of last year’s DREAM lightweight grand prix due to injury while Kawajiri last submitted Ross Ebanez at DREAM.7 earlier this month. [Sherdog]
Former professional boxer and American Top Team member Alessio Sakara will reportedly return to action at UFC 99, which takes place on June 13 in Cologne, Germany, against Brazilian grappler Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares. Sakara last competed at UFC Fight Night 15 last September, where he scored a highlight reel knockout of Joe Vedepo while Palhares recently decisioned Jeremy Horn at UFC 93 in January. [MMA Weekly]
Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced the complete card for its upcoming DREAM.8 event, which will take place at the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan on April 10. The event will be broadcast via tape delay on HDNet in North America.
DREAM’s inaugural welterweight grand prix tournament will kick off at the event, with the biggest first-round matchup pitting skilled grappler Shinya Aoki against longtime Japanese veteran Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Other tourney bouts slated to take place on the card include John Alessio vs. Andre Galvao and Seichi Ikemoto vs. Marius Zaromskis.
A heavyweight meeting between Sergei Kharitonov and former UFC heavyweight title challenger Jeff Monson will highlight the non-tournament portion of the show. Former EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua will return to the international MMA scene to take on Dong Sik Yoon as well.
Hideo Tokoro will face off against Daiki Hata in a first-round featherweight grand prix bout that was moved to the April 10 event in order to allow Hata to recover from an injury suffered in his recent tournament qualifying bout against Shoji Maruyama.
Mirko Filipovic. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Former PRIDE heavyweight standout Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has reportedly been offered a new deal with Japanese-based DREAM. Under its terms, the Croatian would be granted a K-1 rules bout against rival Alistair Overeem among other things.
From Fighters Only Magazine:
In July, the Japanese want me to reprise my fight with Alistair Overeemom and by K-1 rules,” Filopovic said. “I have nothing against continuing last year’s fight, which ended prematurely.”
According to Sportal, “when [K-1] heard that the president of UFC Dana White called Mirko to go back into the cage, people from DREAM reacted quickly”.
The purported three-fight deal includes the K-1 match with Overeem and two MMA rules fights, one of which could be with Fedor Emelianenko.
A potential heavyweight grand prix involving the three aforementioned fighters is also rumored but I’m not going to hold my breath went it comes to the plans of the Japanese. Cro Cop was last said to be headed back to the UFC, potentially for a bout at UFC 99, but that’s not happening. Until he can get back on track, DREAM is probably the best place for Cro Cop, because a return to the UFC likely wouldn’t result in him being fed anyone like Eddie Sanchez from the start.
Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
In a bout that will pit two of Japan’s biggest MMA draws against each other, skilled grappler Shinya Aoki and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai will reportedly meet in the opening round of DREAM’s inaugural welterweight grand prix tournament according to MMA Weekly:
Dream appears ready to kick off its first Welterweight Grand Prix in a big way, pitting No. 1 ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki – who has several past welterweight bouts to his credit – against former Top 10 ranked Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. MMAWeekly.com sources confirmed the planned bout on Friday.
The bout is the first known match-up of the opening round of the tournament and should be a popular choice for the fans in Japan. Both fighters are popular, successful fighters with strong followings in their home country.
A first-round bout between the two had been rumored for some time but it was unknown if Fighting and Entertainment Group officials would be keen on matching the two together in the first round considered how vital they would be to averaging solid television ratings. However based on the extremely poor ratings DREAM.7 pulled in last weekend, it looks as if the promotion is going for broke.
Chase Beebe. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced the first-round pairings for DREAM’s inaugural featherweight grand prix, which starts at DREAM.7 on March 8 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
Former WEC bantamweight Chase Beebe will meet Joe Warren, who will be making his professional debut in the tourney. Other WEC veterans competing include Hiroyuki Takaya going up against Jong-Won Kim and Hiroyuki Takaya taking on Micah Miller.
Additional first-round bouts include former Cage Rage featherweight champion Masakazu Imanari facing a tough test in Atsushi Yamamoto, popular Japanese prospect Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura clashing with Abel Cullum and Bibiano Fernandes fighting Takafumi Otsuka.
A first-round bout between Hideo Tokoro and Daika Hata has been moved to DREAM.8 in April in order to allow Hata to heal from an injury suffering in his recent win over Shoji Maruyama on February 10. Pound-for-pound phenom Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto has received a bye to the second round while he prepares to return from a one-year hiatus due to knee surgery.
John Alessio. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Former UFC and WEC welterweight title challenger John Alessio is reportedly in talks with Fighting and Entertainment Group concerning the possibility of the Xtreme Couture member taking on skilled Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki in the first round of DREAM’s inaugural welterweight grand prix tournament in April.
According to Five Ounces of Pain, a source close to Alessio has stated that although his client is in talks with the Japanese promotion, a deal has not yet been finalized and that his chances of competing in the tournament are uncertain.
Following his questionable release from World Extreme Cagefighting last year, Alessio has gone on to win two out of his last three bouts. “The Natural” won consecutive bouts over fellow UFC veterans Pete Spratt and Gideon Ray before falling to Paul Daley at a Maximum Fighting Championship event in December.
Aoki was the favorite to win DREAM’s lightweight tourney last year, but ended up falling to Joachim Hansen in the grand prix finals. However “Tobikan Judan” bounced back to record consecutive wins in his last two bouts, submitting Todd Moore at DREAM.6 and most recently, fellow top-ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez at K-1 Dynamite!! 2008.