“Kid” Yamamoto. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
DREAM parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group today revealed the promotion’s schedule for the new year, with DREAM’s first show being held on March 8 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan and featuring the opening rounds of the organization’s inaugural featherweight and welterweight grand prix tournaments.
In total, DREAM will put on seven total shows in ‘09. Solidified dates for shows include April 5 at Nippon Gaishi Hall and December 31 at the Saitama Super Arena for the annual year-end K-1 Dynamite show. DREAM officials are also planning to hold shows in May, July, September, and October.
Yamamoto Confirmed for FWGP
Despite Japanese media reports saying different earlier this week, former pound-for-pound phenom Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will indeed be competing in DREAM’s featherweight grand prix according to DREAM event producer Keiichi Sasahara.
Yamamoto has not fought since scoring a second-round TKO win over one-time WEC bantamweight title challenger and Rickson Gracie product Rani Yahya because of a variety of injury problems.
Chase Beebe remains the only other confirmed participant, as he announced his intention to sign a three-fight deal with DREAM in order to compete in the grand prix earlier this week. The full list of the fighters in the tourney is expected to be released next week, along with those slated for fights in the welterweight grand prix.
Overeem, Schilt Rumors Shot Down; Hansen Remains Injured
At Thursday’s press conference, Sasahara remained adamant that Alistair Overeem and Semmy Schilt would not be leaving K-1 or DREAM in the near future, despite both appearing as guests of UFC President Dana White at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland last Saturday. DREAM officials are said to be currently working on finding opponents for both for future shows.
The same goes for Shinya Aoki, Gegard Mousasi, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Sergei Kharitonov, who are expected to be involved in “super-fights” at DREAM’s first pair of events this year. Despite an imminent return to the UFC currently being rumored, Mirko Cro Cop, who recently underwent knee surgery, is expected to return in either May or July depending on his status.
His European counterpart, DREAM lightweight champion Joachim Hansen, remains sidelined indefinitely after being withdrawn from his bout against Gesias Calvancante on December 31 due to a mysterious illness. Details remain sketchy concerning Hansen’s condition, but DREAM officials have stated that if he is unable to compete this year, they will consider creating an interim lightweight title.
Lawal-Kawamura Likely for Sengoku VII
Rising light heavyweight contender Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is reportedly likely to take on reigning light heavyweight King of Pancrase Ryo Kawamura at Sengoku VII on March 20 according to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer newsletter.
Lawal has won all three of his professional bouts, which have taken place exclusive inside the confines of Sengoku, so far. He created waves by dispatching longtime veteran Travis Wiuff in just over two minutes at Sengoku V in September and has since knocked off Fabio Silva and Yukiya Naito in consecutive bouts.
Kawamura fell in his most recent Sengoku appearance, losing an unanimous decision to former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman at Sengoku II. The 27-year-old bounced back though in October, defeating Keiichiro Yamamiya for the vacant light heavyweight King of Pancrase title.
In terms of other fighters competing at the event, former Shooto world champion Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Marlon Sandro, and Hiroyuki Takaya have all announced their participation in Sengoku’s first-ever featherweight grand prix thus far. Nightmare of Battle is also reporting that Pawel Nastula could return to action at the event as well.
Next entry: Fedor’s Road to Reckoning: Episode Three