Tatsuya Mizuno

Tokoro Wins DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix

Hideo Tokoro. Photo courtesy of DREAM.

Hideo Tokoro bested fellow submission specialist Masakazu Imanari via unanimous decision to win DREAM's inaugural bantamweight grand prix tournament at the organization's "Fight for Japan: Japan Grand Prix Final" event on Saturday at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.

A pair of title defenses also took place: Hiroyuki Takaya grinded out a hard-fought split decision win over former Olympic wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata and Gegard Mousasi took out challenger Hiroshi Izumi in quick and impressive fashion, scoring a first round stoppage of the Japanese judoka.

Another notable winners on the card included world-ranked lightweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis and DREAM bantamweight grand prix third-place winner Kenji Osawa.

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All Fighters on Weight for DREAM Japan GP Final

Gegard Mousasi. Photo courtesy of DREAM.

All sixteen fighters scheduled to compete at DREAM's "Fight for Japan: Japan Grand Prix Final" event on Saturday successfully made weight yesterday afternoon.

Seasoned veteran Drew Fickett originally came in two pounds over the 154-lb limit for his fight against Tatsuya Kawajiri, but  shed the extra weight and hit the required mark a couple of hours later.

The eight-fight card, which will not air live in North America, features a pair of title fights - DREAM light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi taking on Hiroshi Izumi and featherweight title holder Hiroyuki Takaya returning to face Kazuyuki Miyata - as well as the bantamweight grand prix finals featuring submission specialists Masakazu Imanari and Hideo Tokoro.

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Team USA Edges Out Korea in M-1 Challenge


Jordan Radev. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Team USA earned a narrow 3-2 win over Team Korea behind the performances of Jake Ellenberger and Jeremiah Constant at the latest edition of the M-1 Challenge in Korea.

Ellenberger scored a second-round TKO of Doo Won Seo via doctor’s stoppage due to cuts while Constant submitting Ji Hoon Kim in the first round of their featured bout. David Gardner‘s quick knockout of Jang Yong Kim handed the Americans the hard-fought victory.

Behind a strong showing by UFC veteran Jordan Radev, the World Star Team soundly defeated Team Japan 4-1. Radev, who was released from the UFC following a loss to Dean Lister last December, picked up his third straight win, winning a decision over Yuya Shirai.

Other notable bouts saw Bruno Carvalho decision DREAM veteran Tatsuya Mizuno and Roman Zentsov fall to Sang Soo Lee by way of first-round submission in one of the show’s superfights.

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Cro Cop Victorious; Aoki Injured in No Contest


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

SAITAMA - Returning to one of his favorite venues, Mirko Cro Cop made it look easy tonight. The cool but lethal Croatian mixed martial arts superstar required a mere 56 seconds to dispatch Tatsuya Mizuno by KO at the DREAM.1 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 1st Round.

Held before a sellout crowd at the Saitama Super Arena—with millions of Japanese television viewers watching live—DREAM.1 featured seven qualification bouts in the DREAM Lightweight (70 kg/154 lbs) class, along with a trio of open-weight fights. This was the inaugural DREAM production—but such is the talent on tap that fans have already dubbed DREAM one of the world’s finest mixed martial arts productions.

All bouts were fought under Official DREAM mixed martial arts rules, with a 10 min first and 5 min second round.

Probably the most highly-anticipated fight on the card featured 33 year-old Mirko Cro Cop, who took on Japanese judo fighter Tatsuya Mizuno. Cro Cop wasted no time here, firing in the low kicks from the bell, stepping forward to lock up Mizuno’s right arm then pumping in uppercuts and straight punches to deposit his opponent on the canvas in a heap of pain. Cro Cop leapt atop the unresponsive Mizuno for a ground and pound finish, leaving the referee no choice but to jump in and call it.

“A lot of fighters refuse to fight me these days, but he had courage and he accepted,” said Cro Cop afterward from center ring. “For my next fight, I will need a stronger opponent, so anyone is welcome!” Who will answer the call?

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Cro Cop Now Dreaming of Mizuno


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

Fight Entertainment Group announced today that Mirko Cro Cop will be officially returning to action this Saturday at DREAM’s inaugural event. His opponent? Not who you thought it was.

FEG officials revealed that Cro Cop would be facing Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno and not Yoshihiro Nakao, the Japanese heavyweight infamously known for kissing Heath Herring during a pre-fight staredown, and whom Cro Cop mentioned he would be fighting last week in his blog.

“A little over an hour ago I was contacted by DREAM officials,” Cro Cop said in the blog post. “They informed me that my opponent on March 15 will be Yoshihiro Nakao from Japan. It was very important for me to fight as soon as possible and I’m happy that DREAM was able to find the opponent for me.”

The move comes a few days after various sites connected to the Japanese mixed martial arts scene reported that the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) had made threats against Nakao if he chose to fight the former PRIDE heavyweight title contender.

The fight will be Cro Cop’s first since going 1-2 in an unsuccessful stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Croatian is currently on a hiatus from competing in the promotion. UFC President Dana White has stated that he believes Cro Cop will be returning before the end of the year.

Mizuno dropped two out of his three bouts in 2007. He was stopped with strikes by both Thiago and Assuerio Silva in consecutive fights but managed to rebound with a win over Masayuki Kono in November.