Aoki, Sakurai Confirmed for DREAM GP


Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced that grappling wizard Shinya Aoki and former PRIDE lightweight title challenger Hayato “Mach” Sakurai would both compete in DREAM’s inaugural welterweight grand prix, which is set to begin on April 5 in Japan.

Aoki was the favorite to win DREAM’s lightweight tourney last year, but ended up falling to Joachim Hansen in the grand prix finals. However “Tobikan Judan” bounced back to record consecutive wins in his last two bouts, submitting Todd Moore at DREAM.6 and most recently, fellow top-ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez at K-1 Dynamite!! 2008.

Sakurai also suffered a disappointing loss of his own when he was upset by David Baron at a Shooto show last May. The latter half of last year had “Mach” embroiled in a Japanese sex tape scandal, but he managed to earn expected wins over Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Katsuyori Shibata before the year’s end.

An additional tournament slot will be filled by the winner of an upcoming DEEP welterweight title bout between Seichi Ikemoto and Hidetaka Monma, which will take place on February 20. Active veteran Ikuhisa Minowa will also participate at DREAM’s April 5 event against an opponent yet-to-be-announced.

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