Tokoro-Yamazaki Added to DREAM.5

Hideo Tokoro attempts to submit Brad Pickett with a heel hook. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

A featherweight bout between K-1 veteran Hideo Tokoro and former DEEP title challenger Takeshi Yamazaki has been added to the undercard for Monday’s DREAM.5 event, which will take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

The promotion officially announced the fight earlier today.

Tokoro turned heads at the DREAM middleweight grand prix quarterfinals in May, winning a hard-fought unanimous decision over Strikeforce veteran Darren Uyenoyama in one of ‘08’s current ‘fight of the year’ candidates. Prior to that, he was submitted by Kiyoshi Tamura at K-1 Premium Dynamite!! 2007 on New Year’s Eve.

Yamazaki, who has fought primarily in DEEP and Shooto, is currently riding a four-fight winning streak that extends back to February of last year. He most recently won an unanimous decision over Shoji Maruyama at DREAM.3 in May and submitted Daiki Ozaki with a rear naked choke at a February Cage Force show.

Hunt Not Returning Against LeBanner at DREAM.5 (Updated)

Mark Hunt throws a left hand at Semmy Schilt. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Update 11:25 PM ET: MMA Weekly has now updated their article, stating that Hunt has informed them he will actually not be fighting LeBanner at the event due to injuries the Frenchman sustained in his recent kickboxing bout against Semmy Schilt. While it’s not set in stone that Hunt will still compete on the card, DREAM officials are currently searching for a replacement opponent.

While DREAM officials have yet to announce the bout, former PRIDE heavyweight contender Mark Hunt will return to action, replacing an injured Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at the organization’s upcoming fifth show on July 21st in Japan.

Hunt confirmed the bout himself in a recent interview with MMA Weekly. It will mark the fifth time in his career in which Hunt will have faced LeBanner in a combat sport. LeBanner owns three wins over hunt inside the confines of K-1.

“Yes, I’m fighting LeBanner,” Hunt said in the report. “He fought not long ago against Semmy Schilt (under K-1 rules), but that’s not my problem. I’m feeling good, looking forward to the fight and being back in MMA. Looking forward to hopefully get my first submission.”

The aforementioned bout between LeBanner and Schilt took place less than two weeks ago, leaving many questions in terms of LeBanner’s health, especially since the fight went to a decision. LeBanner has not fought under MMA rules since knocking out Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s event over two years ago.

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.

Report: Kang Removed From DREAM.5 Card

Denis Kang throws a right hand at Gegard Mousasi. Photo courtesy of DREAM.

Former PRIDE welterweight grand prix runner-up Denis Kang has been removed from DREAM’s latest effort on July 21st due to unknown reasons.

The news comes from MMA Weekly, which reports that Kang learned of the change days ago after waiting multiple weeks for the name of the opponent he was supposed to be facing. An opponent was never given and Kang remains unaware of the reasoning behind his removal from the card.

“I have no idea,” Kang said in the report. “I was feeling really good for this fight, I was peaking really well.”

Only one fight remains on Kang’s current contract with DREAM parent company FEG. Despite being pulled from this month’s card, Kang still has the desire to fight in the Far East, where he has spent the last three years of his career exclusively.

“I want to stay with them, I have no problem with them,” Kang said. “I don’t know that any organization can be perfect. I understand that’s just the way business goes. You have to remember, FEG is running K-1 and K-1 Max, K-1 Heavyweight and Dream at the same time. So I know they’re busy. It’s just very frustrating.”

After riding a near-unbelievable 23-fight undefeated streak over a three-year period, Kang has struggled as of late. He has managed to only win one bout since losing to Kazuo Misaki in the finals of PRIDE’s 2006 welterweight tournament and has now lost his last two fights - a brutal knockout at the hands of Yoshihiro Akiyama and a quick submission loss to rising middleweight Gegard Mousasi.

Hansen-Gill, Others Added to DREAM.5

Joachim Hansen. Photo courtesy of DREAM.

DREAM officials announced yesterday three additional bouts for the promotion’s upcoming fifth show on July 21st in Japan. The most high-profile matchup will see former PRIDE lightweight standout Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen go up against Kultar Gill in a lightweight tournament reserve bout.

Hansen was eliminated from the tourney after losing a hard-fought unanimous decision to Eddie Alvarez in a fight-of-the-year candidate in May. He will now take on Gill, who lost an unanimous decision to Tatsuya Kawajiri at the organization’s inaugural show back in March.

Loser of his last four fights, part-time professional wrestler Katsuyori Shibata will try to pick up his first victory in over a year against highly-ranked middleweight Yoshihiro Akiyama, who has seen his stock rise immensely over the past twelve months with a brutal knockout of Denis Kang last October. However it’s also interesting to note that two out of Akiyama’s last three fights have been ruled no-contests.

UFC veteran Kuniyoshi Hironaka will also return to action against undefeated Cage Force product Motoki Miyazawa. Hironaka went 1-3 in his two-year stint with the UFC, his lone win an unanimous decision over Forrest Petz at UFC Fight Night 9 last April. Former PRIDE heavyweight contender Mark Hunt is also being advertised as competing at the event.

The show will feature the finals of DREAM’s first-ever lightweight grand prix. Eddie Alvarez will battle tough wrestler Tatsuya Kawajiri and tournament favorite Shinya Aoki will take on longtime veteran Caol Uno in separate semi-final matches that will see the winners duke it out later in the night. Pound-for-pound phenom Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will fight for the first time in ‘08 as he takes on undefeated California native Joe Benavidez.

HT: Japan MMA

Cro Cop Out of DREAM 5

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

An official statement was posted in regards to Mirko Cro Cop not being able to compete against Jerome LeBanner on July 21st:

Hello everyone,

Unfortunately I have some bad news I won’t be fighting at DREAM 5 at all. I was about to face Jerome LeBanner but he decided to fight in K1 against Schilt. Mighty Mo was the alternative and I accepted this challenge, but unfortunately Mighty Mo pulled off from the fight. I was ready to face Mo, but maybe this scenario wasn’t that bad for me at all and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been having problems with my right elbow for years and the injury got even worse over last 6 months. I’m already receiving a proper treatment but the recovery won’t happen over night. The second problem is a knee injury, something that troubles me for quite a while. I had difficulties using my kicks and over last few weeks I focused more on boxing and grappling. I really wanted to fight on July 21 and I was even ignoring doctor’s suggestions, but now I’ve rached the point from which I can’t continue with my normal training regiment due to my injuries.

I was willing to accept the risk of fighting Mo or someone else without being 100% ready fo the fight. I had only one fight this year, I miss big fights and top level competition. I’m eager to get back to the big stage, I still have good fights left in me and I won’t give up. I’m not happy with this outcome of course, but at this moment I need to be patient and give some time for my body to recover.

I’m scheduled for arthroscopy tomorrow morning, it’s a minor surgical procedure but it will keep me away from MMA trainings for 2-3 weeks probably. From Wednesday I’ll focus on my new cardio training program and we’ll add MMA elements to my training regiment as soon as my knee will be ready for action.

My goal is to become the first heavyweight champion in DREAM and to do that I need to be ready to fight on September 23. I’m not interested in summer time, vacations or things like that; I’ll focus on getting back to shape and hopefully I’ll fight in September. I would really like to fight Alistair Overeem, we all know why and I won’t let it go. My career is far from being over, I’ll be fighting some strong competitors soon again and hopefully I’ll meet Fedor in the ring once more in 2009.

Thank you for supporting me and I’ll get back to you all soon to keep you updated.

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.

Continue reading "Aoki, Manhoef Advance to Grand Prix Finals"

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

Continue reading "DREAM.4 Preview"

HDNet to Broadcast Four Live Events in June

DALLAS - HDNet Fights today released its June schedule for MMA coverage - including live events from all over the country and the world.

“HDNet Fights is thrilled to announce this awesome schedule,” said Andrew Simon, CEO of HDNet Fights. “I believe the live events that HDNet is offering free to subscribers during the month of June are even better fights than many of the Pay-Per-View offerings we’ve seen recently!”

HDNet’s June schedule for MMA includes the following events and specials after the jump.

Continue reading "HDNet to Broadcast Four Live Events in June"

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.

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