DREAM 10 took place at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan this morning in front of a packed house of nearly 20,000 fans. The card delivered exciting action from beginning to end and produced more than a few shocking upsets to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
1. Seichi Ikemoto vs. Tarec Seffiedine
The DEEP Welterweight Champion Seichi Ikemoto took on Team Quest’s Tarec Seffiedine in what was an exciting stand-up encounter to start off the night. Despite numerous attempts at his infamous double punches and axe handle smashes, Ikemoto proved unsuccessful in trying to fend off the attack of Seffiedine.
The Bulgarian Seffiedine dominated the stand-up game and used his wrestling to dictate the pace of the fight. In the dying minutes, Seffiedine took the fight to the ground and was able to mount. Ikemoto was able to fend off the attack in the final minutes but by this point it was too late and Seffiedine took the unanimous decision.
With this victory, Seffiedine became the first Bulgarian to ever win a mixed martial arts fan in Japan.
Seffiedine looked impressive in his first performance on the big stage. He is a much better striker that most of the fighters we see out of Team Quest. If he continues to work on his killer instinct and his ability to put together combinations, he could be a dominant force at Welterweight.
Welterweight Grand-Prix Semi Final #1
2. Hayato Sakurai vs. Marios Zaromskis
Sakurai came into this fight and the tournament as the heavy favorite to win it all, but as we found out, Marios Zaromskis had other plans. Sakurai looked good early landing solid straight punches every time Zaromskis moved in to strike however the fight quickly took a turn for the worse after two nasty cuts opened up around the left eye of Sakurai.
The cuts opened up quickly and bled heavily, but luckily the referees let the fight continue.
Zaromskis came out with a new intensity in his eyes and put the pressure on Sakurai faking with an overhand left and landing a head kick which put Sakurai on another planet in what could be a contender for knockout of the year.
Zaromskis considerably raised his stock with this knockout of the Japanese Superstar. He showed an ability to know when to push the pace and when to hold back which is an important part of developing into a great fighter. Zaromskis has the stand-up skills to compete with anyone DREAM has to offer however his ground skills need a lot of work. Luckily, Sakurai did not test this skill and Zaromskis made himself an overnight sensation in Japan.
Michael Schiavello quote of the fight: “This fight has more crosses than the Vatican!”
Welterweight Grand-Prix Semi Final #2
3. Andre Galvao vs. Jason High
Despite only having three fights under his belt (black belt that is), Galvao came in as a heavy favorite to defeat High. Galvao showed early that despite his training with Rafael Cavalcante and Anderson Silva, he still has a long ways to go in terms of stand up and got rocked with a straight from High. High was able to avoid numerous submission attempts including a deep leg lock and rear naked choke to survive the first.
In the second High pushed the pace using his wrestling to keep the fight off of the mat and his striking to nullify Galvao, in the end winning a very close split decision.
After the fight it was clear that Galvao was upset with the decision as he left the ring immediately before returning to congratulate his opponent.
Galvao has the ground tools to someday dominate DREAM’s welterweight division but as High showed us, he has a lot of holes which need to be filled in before any such event will take place. Continuous training with the most feared striker on the planet in Anderson Silva will make Andre Galvao into a serious force to be reckoned with.
Jason High showed a lot of resilience and heart throughout the first round of the fight by being able to hold on in submission holds, which looked near impossible to escape. The Japanese promotions and their fans appreciate the heart of a fighter almost as much as their win loss record so don’t be surprised to see High in a DREAM ring again sometime soon.
Michael Schiavello quote(s) of the fight: “More chokes than the Heimlich Maneuver”
“Mounted more times than Jenna Haze”
4. Andre Dida vs. Katsunori Kikuno
Despite a great video showing Kikuno’s solid boxing skills and ability to dominate opponents, few gave the DEEP Lightweight Champion a chance against the K-1 level striker in Andre Dida. To go along with the theme of upsets however, Kikuno pulled off another improbable win by baiting Dida into his game and eventually getting him down for the ground and pound victory.
Kikuno came out with a smile that “could make a stripper nervous” and his head held high in what looked like a calling for Dida to knock him out. He moved slow early, to the point where the “Grandparents from Willy Wonka move more with him” but this was simply a trick to lure Dida into his trap and put him down with some of the most vicious ground and pound seen all year.
In his post-fight speech, Kikuno announced his interest in returning to DREAM and continuing to face big name opponents, more specifically he called out the #2 ranked fighter in the lightweight division, Shinya Aoki. It is unlikely that DREAM would grant such a request without Kikuno putting together a few more victories, but that big goofy smile and chimpanzee style stance might be enough to win over the Japanese fans.
5. Paulo Filho vs. Melvin Manhoef
Next up was the Middleweight match many of the hardcore fans had been anticipating. Paulo Filho returned to action after a bout with depression and painkillers, not to mention one of the most bizarre fights in history against Chael Sonnen, to take on one of the most vicious middleweights in the world today in Melvin Manhoef.
Filho was punished early with Manhoef’s powerful, yet fast hands and after a knee to the head, Filho was literally on the ropes. For a few moments, it looked as though Paulo Filho had not returned to old form
However, Filho survived the early onslaught and was able to get Manhoef to the mat. From here, it took only a few short seconds to wrap Manhoef up and catch him in the all too familiar arm-bar.
Filho looked phenomenal in his showing against Manhoef and if this is a sign of things to come, it will not be long until Filho is once again in the top rankings in the world. The demons he previously had fought appear to be toppled for now.
Manhoef needs to work his ground game and it was never more evident than in this fight. When Filho got a hold of the arm, he had little idea what to do and it was only a matter of seconds before Manhoef was submitted. Everyone knows about his impressive strength and stand-up game; if he could add a ground game to compliment his other areas, Manhoef could as well approach the top of the heap at middleweight.
6. Dong-Sik Yoon vs. Jesse Taylor
Despite the fight only lasting approximately a minute due to a broken ankle for Yoon, Taylor looked impressive. He imposed his will throughout the short fight in similar fashion to the other Team Quest members we have watched over the years.
Despite a losing record, Yoon is widely considered a good fighter in Japan. It will be interesting to see what this does for Jesse Taylor’s career and whether or not this performance will earn him another chance in DREAM.
7. Shinya Aoki vs. Vitor Ribiero
The “grappling match of the year” turned out to be exactly the opposite of what everyone had expected and rather resembled an amateur kickboxing match. As is common when two fighters of the same discipline meet, their ground skills cancelled each other out and this became a standup fight immediately.
Aoki showed massively improved kicks and even a nice Muay-Thai clinch throughout the fight but was unable to finish Ribiero. Aoki won the fight via unanimous decision. When Aoki asked the fans what they thought of his Muay-Thai skills he was greeted with resounding boo’s from the crowd. It is clear they prefer when the Tobikan Judan takes it to the mat.
Aoki made it clear after the fight what his plans are for the rest of the year. He made official an October 6th fight against current DREAM Lightweight Champion Joachim Hansen (the third fight between the two, with both winning one of the previous encounters) and a New Years Eve Dynamite fight against Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri. These fights should both prove to be exciting fights and draw large audiences for DREAM.
Welterweight Grand-Prix Final
8. Marius Zaromskis vs. Jason High
When I previously mentioned that the victory over Sakurai made him a hit in Japan overnight, I’m sure winning the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Japan’s Welterweight Championship did not hurt either. That’s right, the heavy underdog Zaromskis was able to shock the world and take the Welterweight crown.
The fight started with the combatants exchanging strikes with Zaromskis starting to get the better of it before landing a massive head kick which knocked Jason High into next week….maybe even next year. It’s odd that a fighter expected to lose decisively in a tournament comes out and delivers two knock out of the year contenders in the same night but that’s exactly what Zaromskis has done.
It will be interesting to see what DREAM can offer Zaromskis in the form of competition, as it is one of the weaker divisions in the promotion. Maybe Jesse Taylor’s short performance earned him a title shot or maybe Zaromskis will use the DREAM title as a springboard to bigger and better things, much like Gegard Mousasi did.
DREAM 10 delivered one of the most exciting nights of action of the year. There was not a boring fight in the bunch as all of the fighters came out knowing how important victories are on the big stage of DREAM. The event shall be remembered as the birth of a star and the night of the upset as Zaromskis made himself a name to most mixed martial arts fans overnight.