Aoki-Alvarez, Hunt-LeBanner Announced for Dynamite!! 2008


Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.

Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced two additional bouts that will take place at K-1’s “Dynamite!! 2008” event on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan: DREAM lightweight grand prix standouts Shinya Aoki and Eddie Alvarez will clash in a long-awaited battle while former K-1 kickboxers Mark Hunt and Jerome LeBanner will fight for the first time under MMA rules.

Aoki and Alvarez were originally slated to meet in the finals of DREAM’s inaugural lightweight grand prix in July, but Alvarez was forced out of the bout by Japanese officials due to an eye injury suffered in his semi-final fight against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Joachim Hansen replaced Alvarez and went onto upset Aoki with a first-round TKO win.

Since then, Alvarez has been on a temporary hiatus so he could get married in his hometown of Philadelphia while Aoki bounced back with a dominating performance against World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Todd Moore at DREAM.6 on September 23.

Hunt and LeBanner fought each other on four separate occasions during Hunt’s short stint in K-1, but December 31 will mark the first time that the two will meet in a mixed martial arts bout. Hunt is clearly the more experienced fighter after switching to MMA in 2004 while LeBanner remains with K-1. However Hunt has lost his last three fights, most recently falling to Alistair Overeem via first-round submission in July.

LeBanner has not fought under MMA rules since knocking out Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s show in March 2006. LeBanner’s other career MMA highlights include a KO win over judo wizard Yoshihiro Akiyama and a draw against Japanese fan-favorite and former NFL lineman Bob Sapp.

The current fight card for the event now looks like this:

Fields K-1 Dynamite!! 2008 (12/31/08)
Saitama Super Arena
Saitama, Japan

MMA Fights:

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Kiyoshi Tamura
Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki
Joachim Hansen vs. Gesias Calvancante
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Alistair Overeem
Mark Hunt vs. Jerome LeBanner

K-1 Rules Bouts:

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kozo Takeda
Gegard Mousasi vs. Musashi
Hiroya vs. Shota Shimada
Tatsuya Kusakabe vs. Koya Urabe

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