The best MMA fight during the month of April is still yet to be fought. Better than Matt Serra vs. Georges St. Pierre? I’d like to think so. It will certainly be more competitive, just as exciting, but it will come with far less fan fare.
The fight I am referring to is the one between Gesias “JZ” Calvancante and Shinya Aoki for the DREAM 2 event that will take place in Saitama, Japan on April 29, 2008.
JZ and Aoki are two of the very best lightweight fighters in the world, two of the best pound-for-pound, with extremely polarized styles of fighting.
The DREAM organization arguably has the best stable of lightweight fighters of any MMA organization, and JZ and Aoki are two of the elite. For my article MMA: Top 10 Lightweight Rankings (part 5 of 5) I ranked JZ #3 in the world behind B.J. Penn and Takanori Gomi, and Aoki came in at #5.
This fight will be a first round match up for the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix tournament. The winner will advance to fight Katsuhiko Nagata in the second round, which will be at DREAM 3 on May 11, 2008 just two weeks later.
Gesias “JZ” Calvancante, the Brazilian, comes into the fight with a 14-1-1 record with one no contest. He trains with the American Top Team camp in Coconut Creek, Florida, along side Thiago Alves, Din Thomas, Denis Kang, and others.
JZ is an incredibly well rounded fighter with five wins coming by way of knockout and seven coming via submission. He can stand and bang with the best lightweights in the world or he can showcase his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the ground. He has the edge over Aoki standing up, but with his all around skill he should have no preference where this fight takes place.
Shinya Aoki, on the other hand, sports a 11-2 record with one no contest and is stylistically very different from JZ. Aoki works best when he’s on his back similar to UFC heavyweights Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
He has B. J. Penn-like flexibility that allows him to submit guys from seemingly awkward positions. Eight of his eleven victories are via submission and he is one of the best MMA fighters in the world on the ground.
JZ has not lost since 2004 and Aoki since 2005 so something has to give.
This fight will be a rematch of the DREAM 1 fight between the two that resulted in a controversial finish. JZ landed an illegal elbow strike to the back of Aoki’s neck in the first round.
The referee quickly stopped the fight and gave Aoki time to recover; however, the doctors determined Aoki should not continue and a no contest was declared.
The rematch is sure to be one of the best fights of the year. Match-ups between top five fighters in any MMA organization do not come around that often. If you have a chance to watch or to view the replay of the fight I suggest you do so.