The DREAM Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, which was expected to feature fighters such as Gegard Mousasi, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and “King Mo” Lawal, has been canceled. That’s the word coming from SI.com’s Josh Gross.
The Dream light heavyweight grand prix set for May 29 has been cancelled. Fighter reps were told Wednesday.
Looks like the reason for the cancellation is an issue between Dream and its TV partner, TBS.
Zach Arnold, the MMA blogoshpere’s expert on the Japanese MMA scene, believes TBS wants Japanese stars, not expensive foreign light heavyweights who won’t pull ratings.
The last part of Josh’s comments is the most important to focus on. Tokyo Broadcasting System not ponying up the cash to pay for a Light Heavyweight GP tournament featuring Gegard Mousasi and Renato Babalu is not surprising. TBS wants Japanese stars and ratings. DREAM features neither of those qualities. To top it off, the 5/29 Saitama event is headlined by Nick Diaz vs. Hayato Sakurai in a Strikeforce vs. DREAM interpromotional feud that has zero juice to it. Any juice that could have been obtained was squashed when Gilbert Melendez destroyed Shin’ya Aoki in Nashville on April 17th.
It looks like Zach was right too. Japanese MMA star Kid Yamamoto was scheduled to fight on Strikeforce’s May 15 card, however he’s been pulled by FEG and will likely fight at DREAM.14 instead.
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (17-3) will not fight at “Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery” on May 15, though he may fight later in the month at DREAM.14 on May 29.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker informed reporters of the change today during a conference call promoting the May 15 event, which takes place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and airs live on Showtime.
Yamamoto was scheduled to take on Federico Lopez on the non-televised portion of “Heavy Artillery.” However, Coker said the Japanese featherweight could help plug a talent gap at DREAM.14, an event which recently lost a planned 8-man light heavyweight tournament.
Coker said DREAM’s promoters asked him to place Yamamoto on the May 15 card but changed their minds in the shake-up.
As for the GP participants who just lost their fights, Scott Coker says some of them will likely get placed on upcoming Strikeforce cards.
Update: MMA Fighting is reporting that DREAM will still crown a light heavyweight champion this year.
Sources within the organization tell MMA Fighting that DREAM will hold a four-man elimination tournament in July, with the winners facing off for the title later in the year. Right now, DREAM’s July event, DREAM.15, is scheduled for the 19th of the month.
According to the sources, Gegard Mousasi will “for sure” be a part of it, and they are hoping Renato “Babalu” Sobral, as well.