Eddie Alvarez throws one of his many successful right hands in the first round of his fight last night in Japan against Joachim Hansen. Alvarez won an unanimous decision to move on in DREAM’s inaugural lightweight grand prix. Photo courtesy of FEG.
Eddie Alvarez and Caol Uno each pulled off surprising upsets in the second-round of DREAM’s inaugural lightweight grand prix tournament late last night in Japan to solidify their respective spots in the finals later this summer.
The 21,789 that witnessed DREAM’s third effort this year inside the Saitama Super Arena also saw Uno, who fought as a late-entrant into the tourney, overcome a ring-rust filled first round to eventually submit top-ranked Mitsuhiro Ishida with a rear naked choke in the second round.
The first minute of the fight had both fighters content to paw away with short jabs while measuring the distance between one another. Uno picked up the action in the form of leg kicks while Ishida attempted to counter Uno’s kicks with lefts. An errant kick to the groin by Ishida forced Uno to take some time to recover, but the veteran quickly got his bearings back and knocked Ishida down with a crisp right, opening a cut on the bridge of his nose that forced the ringside doctor to stop the clock for a quick check.
Ishida scored a single-leg takedown with about a minute left in the first stanza but Uno was able to reverse position and control his opponent from top position during the closing moments, potentially earning back the round in his favor. After another feeling-out period started the second round, a scramble on the ground saw Uno quickly take Ishida’s back and sink-in the fight-ending choke from behind.
“I know Ishida was eager to fight me,” Uno said after the fight, “He was aggressive and was obviously confident, but I’m the one going home with the win. I’m very happy to be advancing in the tournament.”
Alvarez, who is being lent to the Japanese promotion as part of a now official partnership between DREAM and Elite Xtreme Combat parent company ProElite, defied the odds in pulling out an unanimous decision over former PRIDE lightweight standout Joachim Hansen in a sure-fire fight of the year candidate.
Alvarez scored with the first punch he threw in the fight, knocking Hansen down with a right hand. Alvarez pounced on Hansen, but the Norwegian recovered well, even attempted a gogoplata before Alvarez decided to stand up. Visibly hesitant to exchange strikes standing, Hansen was forced to punch with Alvarez some more after failing on a takedown attempt. Hansen was eventually able to pull Alvarez down to the mat after throwing some combinations, but the Philadelphia native stood up and knocked Hansen down for a second time.
Hansen stood right back up and a clinch up against the ropes allowed him to collect himself. Using superior conditioning to his advantage, Hansen scored points on the feet with a long, left hand until the end of the first round. The second round saw Hansen score an early takedown and then catch Alvarez in a guillotine. Alvarez escaped but found himself trapped in an armbar that nearly ended the fight.
Hansen continued to try submission attempts until the final seconds of the stanza, where Alvarez stood and blasted Hansen with another right as time expired. Even though Hansen clearly won the second round, the non-existence of a third and the early knockdowns scored by Alvarez ultimately lost him the decision.
“Eddie you are the toughest man I ever fought,” Hansen said after the fight. “It’s always nice to fight in front of a Japanese audience, always nice to win in front of a Japanese audience, but it’s also nice to lose in front of a Japanese audience.”
Standout wrestler Tatsuya Kawajiri also moved on in the tournament, winning an unanimous decision over Brazilian submission artist Luiz Firmino. The first round saw Kawajiri use a “sprawl and brawl” strategy to perfection, frustrating Firmino while using superior striking to stifle his opponent. Kawajiri decided to test out the canvas in the second round and found Firmino on his back in the final seconds of the fight but was able to hold on for the win.
In a fight that was on, then off, and then made official just a couple of days ago, Nick Diaz picked up a much-needed victory over Pancrase veteran Katsuya Inoue. The bout took place exclusively on the feet, save one Diaz takedown, with the Stockton, California native pressing the action from the opening bell. While the Diaz was eager to take a shot in order to give one, it was obvious that he was seriously out-landing Inoue.
After Diaz scored a takedown, the fight was stopped momentarily to check a cut on the bridge of Inoue’s nose. The bout was permitted to continue and Diaz was warned for illegally kicking Inoue while he was down on the mat. Once back on the feet, a fatigued Inoue leaves his hands down, allowing Diaz to land hard lefts and rights at will until Inoue’s corner threw in the towel and ended the pain.
Looking for his first professional win, former Olympic judoka Bu Kyung Jung looked much-improved in a back and forth first round with Daisuke Nakamura before being stopped with strikes in the second. Also scoring an impressive stoppage was Melvin Manhoef, who weeks after a kickboxing loss to Remy Bonjasky, used a knee to the head and hammerfists to put away opponent Dae Won Kim in the first round.
The most dominant performance of the night was put in by former ICON Sport middleweight champion Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Fighting for the first time since avenging a previous loss to Tim Kennedy in December, Miller toyed with Katsuyori Shibata until being caught with two right hands in the opening minute. The Team Quest member turned up the heat afterwards, pounding away on a helpless Shibata for over six minutes before the referee finally stepped in and saved the part-time professional wrestler.
The win now moves Miller on to the second round of DREAM’s inaugural middleweight grand prix, where he will next fight on June 15th in Japan.
The night’s first fight saw Takeshi Yamazaki shake off multiple hard-hitting shots by Shoji Maruyama en route to a unanimous decision and his second win of the year.
Notes: As previously mentioned, the official announced attendance at the Saitama Super Arena was 21,789. Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten served as the commentators for HDNet’s broadcast of the event. For those that didn’t catch the early morning live show, a replay will air this afternoon at 4 PM ET. The bout between Melvin Manhoef and Kim Dae Won was a middleweight grand prix reserve fight. It was mentioned during the Japanese PPV broadcast that Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will return to action as part of DREAM’s next scheduled event on June 15th. Complete results from the event are here.