DREAM.5 took place early Monday morning at Osaka Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. The semi-finals and final round of the lightweight grand prix was featured in the Japanese organization’s fifth outing. Shinya Aoki, Caol Uno, Eddie Alvarez and Tatsuya Kawajiri battled it out to determine who would be the 2008 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion.
Mark Hunt also made his return to mixed martial arts action after a two year layoff against the always dangerous Alistair Overeem.
DREAM.5 results and wrap-up after the jump.
- Joachim Hansen defeats Shinya Aoki via TKO (Strikes) in Round One. Wins the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix
- Eddie Alvarez defeats Tatsuya Kawajiri via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
- Shinya Aoki defeats Caol Uno via Unanimous Decision
- Joachim Hansen vs. Kultar Gill via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
- Alistair Overeem defeats Mark Hunt via Submission (Keylock) in Round One
- Yoshihiro Akiyama defeats Katsuyori Shibata via Submission (Choke) in Round One
- Hideo Tokoro defeats Takeshi Yamazaki via Unanimous Decision
- Kuniyoshi Hironaka defeats Motoki Miyazawa via TKO (Cut) in Round One
- Joseph Benavidez defeats Junyo Kudo via Submission (Guillotine Choke) in Round One
- Daisuke Nakamura defeats Andy Ologun via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
Overall it was a solid effort by DREAM. I have still yet to see an entire DREAM event from start to finish, but I was able to catch most of this one. From what I’ve seen, this looked to be DREAM’s best production thus far.
A few weeks ago this card was looking insane. Before a few last minute injury withdraws and a non-booking we had ‘Kid’ Yamamoto, Mirko ‘Cro Cop,’ Jerome LeBanner and Denis Kang as expected participants on this card. Despite their lack of participation, the fighters that did make the event made it a solid early morning or late night (depending on which way you looked at it) of fights.
If you missed the event you may have noticed of the four semi-finalists in the grand prix, not one of them ended up winning the tournament. That’s because Eddie Alvarez got a small cut under his eye in the semi-finals that made his eye nearly swell shut. The doctors wouldn’t allow him to compete in the final match against Shinya Aoki, so Hansen, the winner of the night’s reserve bout, stepped in to replace Alvarez in the final match.
It was disappointing for a couple reasons. One, in a single elimination tournament, the winner is supposed to be undefeated throughout the tournament. This winner was not. Two, Alvarez really did an amazing job in the grand prix. He put on very impressive and exciting performances in the three DREAM fights he competed in. His fight with Joachim Hansen at DREAM.3 was a fight of the year candidate and his semi-final fight against Kawajiri had some of the most exciting stand-up exchanges we’ve seen all year. It’s a shame he didn’t get the opportunity to compete for the GP championship. With his showing in the tournament, including a win over top-ten lightweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, Alvarez is absolutely deserving of top ten lightweight status. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to see him compete in North America sooner rather than later. He should get first crack at the winner of the Noons/Diaz rematch.
Shinya Aoki is without a doubt one of the sport’s most dynamic grapplers. He does things that very few in MMA can do. He was all over Uno like a snake and had him playing submission defense for nearly fifteen minutes straight. That said, its extremely hard today in MMA to be one-dimensional and dominant at the same time. Hansen showed today that punching a grappler like Aoki in the face is the best way to nullify their submission attempts.
Mark Hunt returned to MMA action for the first time since New Year’s Eve in 2006 when he lost to Fedor Emelianenko. Hunt looked great out the gate landing a wicked shot on Alistair Overeem and pushing Overeem to the ground like he was a middleweight. Hunt never should have followed him down though because it wasn’t long after that that Alistair secured the submission. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of Mark Hunt though, and it should set up the Overeem/Cro Cop fight for DREAM.6 in September.
I’m not sure why DREAM keeps feeding Shibata to the wolves. They are definitely putting him in fights he has no business being a part of.
Like I said, it was a good event. Alvarez and Kawajiri probably had the second best fight of the weekend behind Arlovski and Rothwell. The final bout was disappointing without Alvarez, but thats the way it goes. This tournament was definitely his coming out party though. He proved he can compete with the world’s top lightweights and has an incredibly bright future. He should become a huge star here in North America.