Yesterday, Japan’s Fighting & Entertainment Group (FEG) announced the first round match-ups for its inaugural Featherweight Grand Prix at DREAM.7. It will serve as the third grand prix the company has held since forming.
Last year, the lightweights and middleweights competed, crowning Joachin Hansen and Gegard Mousassi as the tournament champions, respectively. We can only hope the featherweight can bring the same fire power.
- Masakazu Imanari (15-6-1) vs. Atsushi Yamamoto (12-5-1)
- Hiroyuki Takaya (9-6-1) vs. Jong Won Kim (0-0)
- Yoshiro Maeda (23-6-2) vs. Micah Miller (10-2)
- Chase Beebe (11-3) vs. Joe Warren (0-0)
- Bibiano Fernandes (3-2) vs. Takafumi Otsuka (8-3-1)
- Abel Cullum (13-2) vs. Akiyo Nishiura (9-3-1)
The tournament will commence on March 8 from the Saitama Super Arena located in Japan. A slight twist in the tourney is the fighters will be competing at an unusual featherweight allowance of 139 lbs, so it will be interesting to see how the competitors who are used to being at 145 will adjust.
Tournament favorite Kid Yamamoto will be getting a first round bye in the hope that he’ll be physically ready to go for the second round.
Kid has been ravaged with injuries since his victory over Rani Yahya more than 13 months ago. He was expected to make his DREAM debut last July against Urijah Faber trained fighter Joseph Benavidez. A fluke training accident led to a partially torn ACL, anyone who has had knee problems can relate to how horrible that can be. The second round won’t begin until May, which should give him considerable amount of time to prepare.
WEC veteran Yohshiro Maeda, who recently competed at bantamweight in the US against Miguel Torres, will be on the card. Masakazu Imanari, Micah Miller, Chase Beebe and Hiryuki Takaya also have to be considered threats to the rest of the tournament field. Also worth noting is DJ Taiki and Hideo Tokoro will meet at DREAM.8 instead.
FEG also announced that Shinya Aoki will get a warm up for the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix against David Gardner at DREAM.7. Also, Mitsuhiro Ishida will face Daisuke Nakamura on the card.