Once upon a time, MMA was so big in Japan that fighters here in the States aspired to performing well-enough in the UFC just so they could jump to the Land of the Rising Sun and make the bigger bucks. Ah, how times have changed. The sport does live on, though, albeit in an existence that pales in comparison to its former self. But it’s an existence nonetheless. Case in point: this morning’s DREAM event, which saw the opening two rounds of a bantamweight tournament, plus five superfights.
Some names should be familiar to you. Shinya Aoki is a top-ranked lightweight who kicked ass in Strikeforce recently, and he totally smoked UFC vet Rich Clementi. Caol Uno, a former UFC lightweight contender (and Shooto champ for all you old schoolers out there), still has the skills to churn out wins, and karate man Katsunori Kikuno did his thing against countryman Daisuke Nakamura. And keep an eye on Masakazu Imanari. There is perhaps only one other person in the world as good at heelhooks and leglocks (Aoki), and watching Imanari fight is like watching Picasso paint a masterpiece with a broken tibia and fibula instead of a paintbrush.
DREAM Bantamweight Tournament
-Hideo Tokoro def. Yoshiro Maeda via TKO (Corner Stoppage) at :43 in Round 2
-Masakazu Imanari def. Keisuke Fujiwara via Unanimous Decision
-Kenji Osawa def. Takafumi Otsuka via Split Decision
-Atsushi Yamamoto def. Yusaku Nakamura via TKO (Punches) at 8:43 in Round 1
-Masakazu Imanari def. Kenji Osawa via Submission (Ankle Lock) at :58 in Round 2
-Hideo Tokoro def. Atsushi Yamamoto via Split Decision
-Shinya Aoki def. Rich Clementi via Submission (Face Crank) at 2:17 in Round 2
-Katsunori Kikuno def. Daisuke Nakamura via Unanimous Decision
-Caol Uno def. Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura via Unanimous Decision
-Takeshi Inoue def. Koichiro Matsumoto via TKO (Punch) at 6:51 in Round 1
-Joachim Hansen def. Mitsuhiro Ishida via Split Decision