Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
In a bout that will pit two of Japan’s biggest MMA draws against each other, skilled grappler Shinya Aoki and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai will reportedly meet in the opening round of DREAM’s inaugural welterweight grand prix tournament according to MMA Weekly:
Dream appears ready to kick off its first Welterweight Grand Prix in a big way, pitting No. 1 ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki – who has several past welterweight bouts to his credit – against former Top 10 ranked Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. MMAWeekly.com sources confirmed the planned bout on Friday.
The bout is the first known match-up of the opening round of the tournament and should be a popular choice for the fans in Japan. Both fighters are popular, successful fighters with strong followings in their home country.
A first-round bout between the two had been rumored for some time but it was unknown if Fighting and Entertainment Group officials would be keen on matching the two together in the first round considered how vital they would be to averaging solid television ratings. However based on the extremely poor ratings DREAM.7 pulled in last weekend, it looks as if the promotion is going for broke.
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