DREAM was back today with another excellent show from the Yokohama Arena in Japan. DREAM 11 featured the conclusion of the featherweight grand prix, more from the Super Hulk Tournament, the return of Kazushi Sakuraba, and some damn great fights, so let’s get straight into it.
Featherweight Grand Prix
In the evening’s main event, Bibiano Fernandes became the first ever DREAM featherweight champion by edging a split decision over Hiroyuki Takaya. This was an absolute stand up war, and the type of fight that neither guy deserved to lose. You really had to feel for Takaya. Both his semi final and final match ups today will go down as potential fight of the year candidates. He was really only expected to make up the numbers in this tournament, and he was desperately unlucky not to come away with the title. I had him narrowly winning on my scorecard, but you couldn’t complain either way. For Fernandes, it’s the biggest win of his career by far. A match between him and Kid Yamamoto would probably do really good business now. Failing that, I don’t think anyone would mind seeing a rematch with Takaya.
DREAM Lightweight Title
In the lightweight title fight, Shinya Aoki submitted Joachim Hansen with only seconds remaining in the bout. It would be interesting to see how the judges had this one scored because while Aoki was controlling position, he wasn’t doing a whole lot else. Hansen had been outworking him off his back for the duration of the bout, and probably should have been ahead on the cards. Aoki is now the first Japanese champion in DREAM. The crowd absolutely loved him, and it came off looking like a really big deal. He will likely fight Tatsuya Kawajiri next on the big Dynamite New Years Eve show.
Kazushi Sakuraba returned with an easy submission win over Rubin Williams. For those who don’t know, Williams is a boxer who is long past his best. He looked completely out of his element, and Sakuraba subbed him quickly with a Kimura. Sakuraba has clearly indicated that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. I would much rather see him in matches like this where he can use guile and avoid taking any major damage . The guy really doesn’t need to be matched up with dangerous young fighters anymore.
Super Hulk Tournament
The final of the Super Hulk Tournament has now been confirmed. Ikuhisa Minowa will take on former UFC and Pride star Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at Dynamite 2009. Sokoudjou made short work of replacement semi finalist Bob Sapp finishing him by TKO in the first. Sapp was brought back in place of the injured Gegard Mousasi, and really put up very little resistance. It’s been a long time since The Beast really came to fight.
In the other semi final, the smallest man in the tournament Minowaman upset the giant Hong Man Choi using his trademark Heel hook. This is a fight that really needs to be seen to be believed. It came off looking like a classically booked big man/little man pro wrestling match, and was a lot of fun.
DREAM 12 will take place on October 25th. It will be the first time in the company’s history that bouts are competed in a cage instead of a ring.
Kazuyuki Miyata beat Dj Taiki by decision
Tatsuya Kawajiri TKO’d Melchor Manibusan in round 1
Kazushi Sakuraba Submitted Rubin Williams in round 1
DREAM Lightweight Championship bout
Shinya Aoki submitted Joachim Hansen in round 2
Super Hulk Grand Prix Semi-Finals
Ikuhisa Minowa Submitted Hong Man Choi in round 2
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou TKO’d Bob Sapp in round 1
Feather Weight Grand Prix Semi-Finals
Hiroyuki Takaya over Hideo Tokoro by TKO round 2
Bibiano Fernandes submitted Joe Warren in round 1
Feather Weight Grand Prix Final
Hiroyuki Takaya lost by split decision to Bibiano Fernandes