Welcome to the second ever edition of the Butoku Report! Todays article will feature news from the aftermath of DREAM 7, whats been announced so far for DREAM 8 and predictions for the upcoming World Victory Road Featherweight Grand Prix!
First off, I would like to send my condolences to the family of Charles “Mask” Lewis. There is no denying that Lewis and the Tapout brand have done a lot to help the growth of mixed martial arts not only in North America, but around the world.
Tapout has not only promoted a brand for mixed martial arts fans to attach themselves to, but also has sponsored hundreds of fighters who otherwise may not have been given the chance to succeed in the sport.
Those who saw him on the Tapout series or had a chance to meet him in real life know just how fun-loving he was. His love for mixed martial arts was evident and his presence will be missed in the mixed martial arts world.
Now on to the Butoku MMA Report!
Dream 7 Aftermath
Following his dominant victory of “Mr. Hello Japan!” David Gardner, Shinya Aoki stated “I was wondering what he was doing when he raised his hand, but when I heard him say, ‘Hello Japan!’ I thought, ‘No way! What’s with this guy?’ He felt so relaxed, so I knew he was making jokes.
Maybe he thought he was on vacation here in Japan, so I punished him.” Aoki followed this up by saying that “The only thing I have to say is ‘Hello, Japan!’ And that should tell you everything about the fight, I think I’m going to keep saying this for quite a long time.”
Gardner states Boredom as the reason for his little stint. Maybe next time Gardner should be more concerned with getting the victory than introducing himself. If there is one benefit that came out of this fight for Gardner, it is that his name will not be forgotten in Japan for a long time to come.
Despite DREAM 7’s solid attendance (19,528), the television rating was reportedly to be “nightmarishly low” coming in at 2.4 percent. The reason is likely because of the lack of big name stars on the card with only Kawajiri and Aoki being big name fighters in Japan.
It is safe to say that DREAM 8 Welterweight first round card should pull a considerably higher rating with Aoki and Sakurai on the card, as well as JZ Calvancante being rumored.
While we are on the topic of DREAM, two non-tournament bouts were signed for the upcoming event to take place on April 5. DREAM Middleweight semi-finalist Zelg Galesic will return to action against Britain’s Andrews Nakahara.
This fight could prtopel the winner towards title contention. The other fight announced for the event features Japanese fan favorite Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa against wrestling standout Katsuyori Shibata in what should be another classic Minowa brawl for all.
Interestingly enough, the two major stars of the tournament are being reported to meet in the first round. Shinya Aoki is to meet Hayato Sakurai in the first round, which seems like a weird move on the part of DREAM but is likely related to the poor ratings for DREAM 7.
They know they need to produce a large number on the next show and how better to do it than to put the two top stars against each other.
It is also important to note that this is a rematch between these two superstars. Sakurai took their first bout in 2005 via unanimous decision.
Ronaldo Jacare is featured on the poster for the event so is likely to participate in the tournament. To this point, the five fighters announced for the Grand Prix are: Shinya Aoki, Hayato Sakurai, Hideo Tokoro, DJ Taiki, and with his recent victory over Yoon Young Kim, Yuya Shirai adds himself to the tournament.
For those who haven’t got a chance to check out the show yet, keep your eye on HDnet as they ran a replay Saturday night and will likely run it a few more times.
Enough about DREAM, onto World Victory Road!
World Victory Road Featherweight Grand Prix!
We are now only five days away from the beginning of the WVR Featherweight Grand Prix opening round. The WVR GP does not offer the star power of DREAM, other than Hatsu Hioki who is expected to be the poster boy of the tournament.
I was going to offer a quick breakdown of the event but Bleacher writer John Shubert has done just as good of a job as I could have done, so instead I will link you to his article. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/139103-sengoku-7-preview
I will still quickly run down my picks for the Featherweight Grand-Prix:
1. Feather GP: Seiya Kawahara 6-1-0 vs. 6-0-0 Nick Denis
Seiya Kawahara comes in from Pancrase looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss. Denis comes from KOTC. To simply put it, both these fighters like to bang and both finish fights. Expect fireworks in this one.
I’m going to go against Shubert’s pick and go with Kawahara by first round TKO based on the fact that Kawahara has faced slightly better competition and coming off a loss should be hungrier than ever to prove himself.
2. Tetsuya Yamada 3-0-0 vs. 16-1-1 Ronnie Mann Ushiwaka
The records say everything that needs to be said for this fight. Yamada does have a perfect record; however he only has three fights. It’s hard to compare that against a veteran with eighteen fights. First-round submission for Ronnie Mann.
3. Shintaro Ishiwatari 6-1-3 vs. 2-0-0 Jung Chan Sung
Ishiwatari has the veteran status and likes to end fights. Ishiwatari is the favorite and I have no reason to doubt he will win this. I pick Ishiwatari by first round TKO.
4. Masanori Kanehara 11-5-5 vs. 3-5-3 Jong Man Kim
Again we see a fight where the Sengoku officials clearly have a certain fighter in mind that they want to move on. I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t Kim! Despite the records, do not totally count Kim out.
He has fought veterans such as Imanari, and even holds a victory over Atsushi Yamamoto. Despite this, I am still going to go with Kanehara via 1st round submission.
5. Marlon Sandro 12-0-0 vs. 9-4-0 Matt Jaggers
This fight represents one of the more intriguing fights of the first round….basically because there records are somewhat similar. Despite Sandro having the better record, he finishes a lot of his fights via decision unlike Jaggers, who likes to finish his opponents via strikes. I am going to predict the mild upset and take Jaggers via second-round TKO.
6. Michihiro Omigawa 4-7-1 vs. 13-1-0 L.C. Davis
When looking at the records, you are likely to laugh at Omigawa’s chances however it is important to point out that those losses come at the hands of Matt Wiman, Thiago Tavares, JZ Calvancante and Aaron Riley.
Despite this, the up-and-coming Davis should be able to control the pace using his size. I predict a unanimous decision victory for Davis.
7. Hideki Kadowaki 13-8-2 vs. 14-5-0 Nam Phan
Again we see a fighter in Kadowaki whose record may be misleading, however we should point out that some of those losses come at the hands of Hatsu Hioki, Kid Yamamoto and Alexandre Nogueira.
He also holds victories over top tier competition in legend Rumina Sato and top ranked Akitoshi Tamura. Nam Phan on the other hand has also fought a who’s who of lightweights and featherweight.
Three of his five losses have come at the hands of ranked or formerly ranked opponents in Rob McCullough, Josh Thomson and JZ Calvancante. This fight is going to be a war, plain and simple.
Both men excel at submission and it is hard to choose a winner in this one. Phan has to be the favorite in this fight, as he has fought all over the world, but I am going to take Kadowaki by split decision in what should be a ground classic.
8. Hatsu Hioki 17-3-2 vs. 6-0-2 Chris Manuel
Finally on to the main event of the evening. Despite Manuel’s impressive record he has not fought any top competition like his opponent Hioki. Hioki has fought more top names in the division and because of this I will predict a first round submission victory for Hioki.
If you have HDnet, make sure to keep your eye out for this event, as it does feature many up-and-coming Japanese and American mixed martial artists.
Well folks, that’s it for this weeks Butoku report. Be sure to keep your eye on the Bleacher Report, as I will have an exclusive interview with a fighter who took part in the DREAM 7 Featherweight Grand-Prix very soon!