Emanating from the Yokohama Arena in Japan DREAM returns tomorrow with some massive fights. This card includes the second round of their Featherweight tournament, a Middleweight title fight, and the first round of their now infamous "Super Hulk" Grand Prix.
Some of these fights are great but some of them are jokes. Dream is bringing a little something for everyone on this card. Hopefully this short sighted approach to garner ratings doesn't hurt their long term viability. With that said let's start breaking down the fights:
Jason Miller v. Ronaldo Souza: Miller is 22-6, 1-1 in DREAM, with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler. Souza is 10-2, 3-1 in DREAM, with nine wins by submission. He is a BJJ fighter.
This fight is taking place after Gegard Mousasi vacated his title to move up in weight and he will be competing in the Super Hulk GP also on this card. Miller and Souza are both good grapplers. Souza is stronger in submissions but Miller has better wrestling.
Souza owns a win over Miller but Miller took a long break after that fight to refocus and I feel that mentally he is more ready for this fight. My guess is that Miller will use his wrestling to stay on his feet and use his striking. I'm picking Miller to win by KO in the first round. It will be interesting see how both fighters feel though as Miller fought just last month and Souza hasn't fought in almost nine.
Tatsuya Kawajiri v. Gesias Calvancante: Kawajiri is 23-5-2, 3-1 in DREAM, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some BJJ. JZ is 14-2-1, 0-1 in DREAM, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a BJJ fighter with some kickboxing.
JZ hasn't fought in over a year and he may be a bit rusty and Kawajiri is a tough test to come back to. I think Kawajiri has the advantage striking and can survive on the ground with JZ. I'm picking Kawajiri to earn a decision victory.
Norifumi Yamamoto v. Joe Warren: "Kid" Yamamoto is 17-1, making his DREAM debut, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a Muay Thai fighter with some wrestling. Warren is 1-0 in DREAM and overall with that win coming via KO. He is a wrestler with strong hands.
"Kid" is making his Grand Prix debut due to him getting a bye because of an injury. Warren just doesn't have the experience to match up with the caliber of fighter like "Kid". I'm picking "Kid" via TKO in the first round.
Masakazu Imanari v. Bibiano Fernandes: Imanari is 16-6-1, 1-0 in DREAM, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a BJJ fighter. Fernandes is 4-2, 1-0 in DREAM, with two wins by submission. He is a BJJ fighter.
Both of these guys are good grapplers but Imanari just has more experience against better competition. I'm picking Imanari to win by decision.
Yoshiro Maeda v. Hiroyuki Takaya: Maeda is 24-6-2, 1-0 in DREAM, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Takaya is 9-6-1, 1-0 in DREAM, with six wins by KO. He is also a striker.
This should be a fun war to watch but Maeda is the better fighter. I'm picking Maeda to win by TKO in the first round.
Abel Cullum v. Hideo Tokoro: Cullum is 14-2, 1-0 in DREAM, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a BJJ fighter. Tokoro is 20-14-1, 2-2 in DREAM, with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler.
Both fighters are talented ground fighters but Cullum is the better fighter overall. I'm picking Cullum to win by decision.
Gegard Mousasi v. Mark Hunt: Mousasi is 27-2-1, 4-0 in DREAM, with 22 wins by stoppage. He is a kickboxer. Hunt is 5-5, 0-1 in DREAM, with three wins by KO. He is also a kickboxer.
This should be a good stand up war. Mousasi gives up a lot of weight to Hunt. While it won't be an issue on the ground as neither of them want to be there Hunt should have the power advantage. I still like Mousasi to win but he has to be very careful and keep moving. I'm picking Mousasi to win by decision.
Jan Nortje v. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou: Nortje is 2-5, making his DREAM debut, with both wins by KO. He is a kickboxer. Sokoudjou is 5-4, also making his DREAM debut, with four wins by KO. He is a Joduka with good striking.
Again Sokoudjou will be giving up a lot of weight but he is the better fighter. As long as he keeps moving he should be fine. I'm picking Sokoudjou to win by TKO in the first round. Hopefully this is the win that can get Sokoudjou's MMA career back on track.
Hong Man Choi v. Jose Canseco: This fight is a joke and I refuse to preview it even though we all know what's going to happen.
Bob Sapp v. Ikuhisa Minowa: Sapp is 10-3-1, making his DREAM debut, with nine wins by stoppage. He doesn't really have a style other than just being huge. However, he wins most of his fights by TKO. Minowa is 41-30-8, 1-3 in DREAM, with 30 wins by stoppage. He is grappler.
Minowa's career as a competitive fighter are over. However, Sapp is a side show for the most part and even though Minowa is giving up a lot of size I like him to somehow get this fight to the mat and win via submission in the second round.
This should be a very interesting card for a variety of reasons and I definitely feel like some big upsets are possible. I'll be back with my DREAM 9 review later this week. Also, stay tuned as always for my TUF 9 review and look forward to my Strikeforce and WEC previews coming this weekend. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...