Marius Zaromskis has upset the odds by winning the DREAM welterweight grandprix, and becoming the promotion’s first welterweight champion.
The 26 year old Lithuanian scored two stunning high kick knockouts en route to the title. In the semifinal bout he stopped tournament favourite Hayato “Mach” Sakurai midway through the first round, before going on to knockout Jason High in absolutely terrifying fashion. Both will probably go down as knockout of the year contenders.
I saw a lot of Zaromskis back when he was fighting in Cage Rage in the UK. The guy was always a good value for money type of fighter, but I always felt he lacked the rounded skills needed to compete at the top level. He’s got a really devastating striking style which borders on recklessness. In that sense he is a good fit with the DREAM brand; where putting on an entertaining show is as important as wins and losses. This was by far the biggest night of his career thus far, and I think he may have made himself into something of a star in Japan. He looked like Mirko Cro Cop by the end of this show.
Marius is a terrific striker, but it’s the rest of his game which can let him down at times. That makes him an exciting champion, but also somewhat vulnerable. Sakurai would have had a decisive advantage over him grappling, but made the mistake of getting drawn into a shootout. High had success early by taking the fight to the mat, but again got taken out on the feet. To Zaromskis’ credit, he did a good job of never getting trapped on the ground for any significant length of time.
He’s not a complete fighter just yet, but it creates a rather interesting dynamic though. One similar to that of Mirko back in Pride: get him to the ground or get knocked out.
Shinya Aoki outpointed Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro in a striking bout between two world class submission experts.
Paulo Filho survived an early beat down before catching Melvin Manhoef in an armbar in the first round. This was a very different Paulo Filho than we saw in that disgraceful showing at WEC 36. An excellent performance.
Jesse Taylor of The Ultimate fighter 7 picked up a win over Dong Sik Yoon in his DREAM debut. Yoon unfortunately suffered a leg injury on an early take down causing the fight to be stopped.