DREAM Middleweight GP Pairings Announced

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

DREAM has announced the pairings for the final round of it’s inaugural middleweight grand prix, which will culminate at DREAM.6 on September 26th at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. The event will be televised live on HDNet in North America.

Grappling wizard Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who won a hard-fought decision over Jason “Mayhem” Miller to advance to the tournament’s final round, will take on skilled kickboxer Zelg Galesic in one semi-final. The other will see tournament favorite Melvin Manhoef face off against well-rounded rising prospect Gegard Mousasi. The winners of both bouts will then fight in the show’s main event.

Also announced for DREAM.6 was a featherweight bout between the streaking Hideo Tokoro, winner of his last two fights, and Shooto and Pancrase product Atsushi Yamamoto. Additional rumored participants include former PRIDE heavyweight standout Mirko Cro Cop, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, and rising middleweight Yoshihiro Akiyama.

The “Unfinished Business” Fallout Continues

Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.

The negative fallout from EliteXC’s second show on CBS is continuing. Yesterday the UFC and Spike TV blasted the organization for drawing lesser numbers on their network television broadcast than a replay of UFC 84: Ill Will in certain demographics last Saturday night. Gary Shaw and Doug DeLuca’s resignation from ProElite were also announced on Tuesday as well.

One of the things EliteXC heads DeLuca and Jeremy Lappen continually harped on in the weeks leading up to the event was the tremendous ticket sales they were enjoying. DeLuca stated that five days out from the event, they had already sold half of the available tickets and were expecting a sellout.

“We’re definitely well over half sold already,” DeLuca said during a pre-event conference call on July 22. “That was as of the weekend. I know we picked up a full head of steam on Monday. I’m really not too sure where ticket sales are at exactly, but we are fully expecting it to be a complete sell out.”

It turns out that DeLuca fibbed a bit.

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Lawler, Smith Ready for Another Round

Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.

Less than two months after their first bout ended in disappointing fashion, Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith will duke it out once again for the EliteXC middleweight title during the organization’s second network television event on CBS this Saturday night.

The two spoke about their upcoming battle on a pre-fight conference call with the media yesterday that also included female fighters Shayna Baszler and Cris Cyborg as well as ProElite chairman Doug DeLuca. As usual, Lawler kept his answers short and sweet, just letting everybody know that his focus was on this weekend’s fight with Smith and nothing else.

“Really, I don’t care,” Lawler said when asked about his previous fight with Smith. “I look at it as a new fight and I kind of look at it as we’ve never fought before. I’ll be ready to go. I’m not focusing on that anymore. I’m focusing on this next fight and I don’t care how that last one went. I just need to go out there and get the job done on Saturday.”

Meanwhile Smith revealed that he was especially happy that a rematch between the two happened so soon. With his eye and foot injuries suffered in the first bout completely healed, Smith discussed his training for the fight and how he feels that a different regimen this time around may result in seeing an even better fighter this weekend.

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Hansen Claims DREAM’s Lightweight GP

Joachim Hansen. Photo courtesy of DREAM.

Joachim Hansen was the surprise winner of DREAM’s inaugural lightweight grand prix this morning, avenging a past loss to Shinya Aoki by knocking out the skilled grappler in the tournament finals despite starting the night as a reserve.

In a dramatic turn of events, Hansen was pushed into the lightweight title main event after Eddie Alvarez was unable to compete due to injury. During the first few minutes of his battle against Aoki, it looked as if Hansen was about to fall victim to another submission loss once again, just as he did against Aoki at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 a few years back.

However the tide turned once Hansen landed a strong left hand while falling back to Aoki’s guard. The punch hurt Aoki, allowing Hansen to bomb away with unanswered right hands until Aoki stopped responding and referee Yuji Shimada was forced to stop the bout. An elated Hansen jumped into the arms of his corner. After composing himself, Hansen was quick to push for a rematch of his war against Alvarez earlier this year as his first official title defense.

“This still has to sink in a little,” Hansen said after the fight. “I am the sort of person who takes one thing at a time, so I concentrated on Kultar Gill (whom Hansen defeated via TKO earlier in the night) and felt a little strange going into the final match, so I took my time and looked for the right chance to strike. I had a great night, thanks to my team and everybody who helped me, and next time I hope to defend my title against Eddie Alvarez.”

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DREAM.5 Live Results

We will be going live at 2:00 AM ET with live results of tomorrow morning’s DREAM.5 event, which will take place at the Osaka Castle Hall in Japan. Those in North America will be able to watch the event live on HDNet tomorrow morning at 2 AM ET. It will air again via tape delay at 10 PM ET as well.

The show features the final round of the promotion’s inaugural lightweight grand prix - Eddie Alvarez, Caol Uno, Shinya Aoki, and Tatsuya Kawajiri will battle it out in a four-man tournament with the winners facing off for the GP title in the night’s main event. Additional featured bouts include a slugfest between Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem as well as a lightweight tourney reserve bout between Joachim Hansen and “Black Mamba” Kultar Gill.

Be sure to leave comments throughout the morning. Detailed live results are after the jump.

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Two Bouts Finalize Monday’s DREAM.5 Card

Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Two additional bouts have been added to Monday’s DREAM.5 event in Japan, finalizing a card which will feature the finals of the promotion’s inaugural lightweight grand prix. Those in North America will be able to watch the event live on HDNet tomorrow morning at 2 AM ET. It will air again via tape delay at 10 PM ET as well.

Urijah-Faber trained Joe Benavidez, who was originally slated to take on pound-for-pound phenom Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, will go up against Shooto veteran Junya “Kodo” Kudo. Bendavidez is undefeated in seven professional fights, last submitting Maurice Eazel at a Palace Fighting Championship event in May. Kudo suffered his first career loss in June, dropping an unanimous decision to So Tazawa.

Yamamoto was forced to withdraw from the show after suffering a knee injury during a recent training session. A failed flying knee attempt caused an awkward landing and the sound of a pop inside of Kid’s right leg. An MRI shows that Yamamoto suffered a partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament, however it won’t be determined whether surgery is necessary or not until sometime next week.

“It’s unfortunate that Kid got injured and I want to thank my opponent for taking the fight on short notice,” Benavidez at the pre-fight press conference yesterday in Japan. “I am focused on the opponent I have now, and I just want to go in and get the win.”

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Tap Selections: Affliction, UFC, & Dream

Andrei Arlovski. Photo by Esther Lin/CombatLifestyle.com.

Here are our predictions for each of the big-time shows that are going on this weekend. (Affliction: Banned, UFC Fight Night 14, and DREAM.5) Below you can find our thoughts on the winners and methods of victory as well as analysis on each of the show’s main events. Our records to date are included as well. Also, here’s an unofficial introduction to our newest staff member, Martin Alexander, as this is his first time predicting events.

Affliction: Banned

Jamie Fitzgerald (41-17)

Main Event: While it’s been some time since Fedor has faced a decent opponent, I’m confident he hasn’t lost a step. Tim will once again use his reach, but unlike the Nogueira fight where he dominated for two rounds, Sylvia will struggle with Fedor’s quickness. Emelianenko will have a few marks on his face, but he’ll catch Tim with an armbar in the 2nd round.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia (Armbar, R2)
Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell (KO, R1)
Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo (Kimura, R2)
Matt Lindland vs. Fabio Negao (Decision)
Renato Sobral vs. Mike Whitehead (Anaconda Choke, R2)
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Edwin Dewees (TKO, R1)
Vitor Belfort vs. Terry Martin (KO, R2)
Gary Goodridge vs. Paul Buentello (KO, R1)
Savant Young vs. Mark Hominick (Decision)
Mike Pyle vs. J.J. Ambrose (TKO, R1)
Justin Levens vs. Ray Lizama (TKO, R2)

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Report: Overeem Tapped to Face Hunt

Alistair Overeem. Photo by Jon Swenson.

Dutch striker Alistair Overeem will reportedly replace an injured Jerome LeBanner against former PRIDE heavyweight contender Mark Hunt in a late addition to Monday’s DREAM.5 event in Japan, which will feature the finals of the promotion’s inaugural lightweight grand prix.

The news comes from The Fight Network, which has confirmed the bout with Overeem himself. DREAM officials are expected to officially announce the bout over the next day or so. LeBanner was forced to withdraw from the fight after suffering injuries during a recent K-1 kickboxing bout against Semmy Schilt.

Overeem last knocked out one-time PRIDE veteran Tae Hyun Lee in the first round at DREAM.4 in June. Prior to that, he forced Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Paul Buentello to tap out due to injuries received from knees to the body at Strikeforce’s “Four Men Enter, One Man Survives” event in November of last year. The win earned Overeem the vacant Strkeforce heavyweight belt.

Meanwhile after nearly five years as a professional kickboxer, Hunt bursted onto the MMA scene in 2004 and quickly shocked the world with consecutive upsets over Wanderlei Silva and Filipovic. Since then the New Zealand native has split his last four fights and has been concentrating on his part-time pro wrestling career during his time off since the demise of the PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Yamamoto Injured; Withdraws from DREAM.5

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Pound-for-pound phenom Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto has reportedly withdrawn from his scheduled featherweight bout against California native Joseph Benavidez at Monday’s DREAM.5 event in Japan after suffering a knee injury during a recent training session.

The news comes from Jordan Breen of Sherdog.com, who reports that Yamamoto could be sidelined for up to six months after a failed flying knee attempt during a recent sparring session caused an awkward landing and the sound of a pop inside of Kid’s right leg. An MRI shows that Yamamoto suffered a partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament, however it won’t be determined whether surgery is necessary or not until sometime next week.

DREAM event producer Keiichi Sasahara has stated that he is currently looking for a late replacement opponent for Benavidez. One option Sasahara has is matching up Benavidez and former DEEP title challenger Takeshi Yamazaki. Hideo Tokoro, Yamazaki’s scheduled opponent at the event, was hospitalized earlier this week after suffering a back injury in a minor car accident, leaving his participation in doubt.

Monday’s injury-plagued card also saw former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic bow out after having to undergo knee and elbow surgery that will put him out of action until this fall. His opponent, Jerome LeBanner was also forced to pull out of a proposed bout against fellow former kickboxer Mark Hunt after LeBanner was injured during a recent K-1 rules bout against Semmy Schilt.

Tokoro Involved in Car Accident

Hideo Tokoro. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Longtime K-1 veteran Hideo Tokoro was involved in a minor car accident earlier this week that may put his scheduled bout against former DEEP title challenger Takeshi Yamazaki at Monday’s DREAM.5 event in Japan in jeopardy.

According to Sherdog.com’s Jordan Breen, citing Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, Tokoro’s vehicle was stuck in traffic in Tokyo Wednesday afternoon when he was hit from behind by an oncoming automobile. Tokoro suffered a mild waist and back injury and was hospitalized as a precautionary measure but quickly released.

The bruising from his injury will reportedly only take a week for Tokoro to recover from, but his bout against Yamazaki now remains in doubt being that the event is less than a handful of days away.

DREAM parent company Fight Entertainment Group has yet to make a public statement about the matter. Breen was able to discover through an official at Japanese promotion ZST that Tokoro’s camp is “optimistic” in terms of whether or not he will be able to fight next week. Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold states that FEG officials will likely make a decision tomorrow concerning Tokoro’s participation at the event.

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