Dream returns this Sunday with the first round of their WW Grand Prix. This Grand Prix is really only noteworthy due to the inclusion of LW king pin Shinya Aoki. There are also some big name fights on the card though not a lot of top flight match ups.
Let's start breaking down the fights:
Ikuhisa Minowa v. Katsuyori Shibata: Minowa is 41-29-8, 1-2 in DREAM, with 30 wins by stoppage. He is grappler with solid submissions. Shibata is 2-5-1, 0-2 in DREAM, with both wins by stoppage. He is wrestler with decent muay thai.
This is obviously a patsy match, at a catch weight of 194 lbs, for Minowa to get back on track in DREAM. He is a major star in Japan and I expect him to take care of business. I'll pick "The Punk" to win by submission in the first round.
Shungo Oyama v. Andrews Nakahara: Oyama is 7-11, 0-1 in DREAM, with five wins by stoppage. He is a judoka. Nakahara is 1-1 over all and in DREAM, with the one win by KO. He has solid karate and BJJ.
This is a really tough fight to call. I think I'll go with the upstart Nakahara to win by TKO in the first round.
Katsuhiko Nagata v. Vitor Ribeiro: Nagata is 4-4, 1-1 in DREAM, with one win by TKO. He is a wrestler. Ribeiro is 19-2, making his DREAM debut, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a BJJ fighter.
This should be a fairly easy match up for Ribeiro. Nagata will look to take him down but that's exactly where Ribeiro wants to be. I expect Ribeiro to win by submission in the first round.
Murilo Rua v. Dong Sik Yoon: Rua is 16-9-1, making his DREAM debut, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter with good BJJ and solid muay thai. Yoon is 4-6, 1-2 in DREAM, with three wins by submission. He is a judoka.
This is another big name fighter making their debut in DREAM against a cup cake. Rua needs a good showing back on Japanese soil after a terrible stint in EliteXC. I'll pick him to win by TKO in the second round.
Sergei Kharitonov v. Jeff Monson: Sergei is 16-3, 1-0 in DREAM, with 15 wins by submission. He is a well rounded fighter with good sambo, boxing, and muay thai. Monson is 28-8, making his DREAM debut, with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with good BJJ.
This is the co marquee match up of the night. This is a great match up on the ground. If Monson can use his wrestling to get the fight there he should be in good shape. If he can't he will be in trouble against Sergei's impressive stand up.
This should be a great scrap. I think Sergei has more tools so I am hesitantly picking him to win by decision.
Hideo Tokoro v. Daiki Hata: Tokoro is 20-13-1, 2-1 in DREAM, with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Hata is 10-5-3, making his DREAM debut, with six wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with solid hands.
This is an interesting match up. I think because Hata can control where the fight takes place he will keep it on the feet to his advantage. I'll pick Hata to win by decision.
Andre Galvao v. John Alessio: Galvao is 2-0, making his DREAM debut, with both wins by submission. He is a submission fighter. Alessio is 24-12, also making his DREAM debut, with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter with solid hands and grappling skills.
I don't think Galvao is quite ready for this stage yet and Alessio has a ton of experience. I'm going to pick Alessio to beat the upstart by TKO in the first round.
Marius Zaromskis v. Seichi Ikemoto: Marius is 8-2, making his DREAM debut, with all eight wins by stoppage. He has good kickboxing along with solid wrestling and judo. Seichi is 18-14-5, also making his DREAM debut, with 11 wins by stoppage. He has solid hands and submissions.
Ikemoto is a journey man and Marius hasn't faced any decent competition yet. This is another tough fight to call. I think I'm going to pick Marius due to the number of tools in his tool box. I'll pick him to win by decision.
Yuya Shirai v. Jason High: Yuya is 15-7, making his DREAM debut, with seven wins by stoppage. He has solid hands and submissions. High is 6-1, making his DREAM debut, with five wins by stoppage. He is a solid wrestler with striking.
This fight should be pretty competitive. I like High in this fight due to his mix of wrestling and striking. I'll pick him to win by decision.
Hayato Sakurai v. Shinya Aoki: Sakurai is 33-8-2, 2-0 in DREAM, with 19 wins by stoppage. He has good wrestling and judo with solid kickboxing. Aoki is 20-3, 5-1 in DREAM, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is BJJ fighter with some judo.
This is the marquee fight of the evening and it should be a very interesting one. Aoki is moving up to WW for only the second time against a Japanese legend. This sort of seems like a passing of the torch from "Mach" to Aoki but Sakurai is no joke.
I still like Aoki to win considering how dominant he's been at LW and how Sakurai is getting up in age. I think Aoki will do what he always does and figure out a way to get the fight to the ground where he can control it. I'm picking him to win by decision.
This should be a good card for DREAM after a light card at DREAM 7. This card packs way more name power and also boasts some better match ups. I'm definitely looking forward to it!
That's all for now. Stay tuned for my WEC 40 preview along with my reviews of both cards. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...