The Yokohoma Arena is set to host the upcoming DREAM 11 event which includes the semi-finals and finals of the DREAM Featherweight Tournament and the Semi-Finals of the DREAM Super-Hulk Tournament as well as Joachim Hansen defending his DREAM Lightweight Championship against Shinya Aoki.
DREAM has a history of putting on great MMA shows and they are always hard to predict with their tournament fights especially with a number of considerations to take in about the fighters, their condition and injuries that come along the way, last time I predicted for a DREAM tournament was the finals of the DREAM Welterweight Tournament where I chose Hayato Sakurai & Andre Galvao and neither advanced to the finals, feel free to agree or disagree with my picks and give any feedback guys.
Feather Weight Grand Prix 2009 Reserve bout: Kazuyuki Miyata vs. Daiki Hata
Kazuyuki Miyata holds a 7-7 record and has faced some of the top names in the Lightweight Division today in Vitor Ribeiro, Kid Yamamoto & Joachim Hansen however has come up short in all of those bouts. The majority of his fights he has won via submission with five submissions, one knock out and one decision under his belt and is currently riding a two fight win streak with wins over Takeshi Yamazaki & Jae Hyuon So.
Daiki "DJ Taiki" Hata returns to DREAM with an 11-5-3 record and holds wins over Kenji Osawa, Yoshiro Maeda & Jameel Massouh with most of his fights ending in a decision or a knock out with five decisions, five knockouts and one submission to his name. At this point DJ Taiki has won four of his last five fights with his fight from DEEP 37 against Jong Man Kim being considered a draw.
DJ Taiki last competed at DREAM 8 in the opening round of the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix and defeated Hideo Tokoro however due to injury he was unable to continue in the tournament so Hideo Tokoro has to take his place and now is competing in the Semi-Finals against Hiroyuki Takaya later on this card.
Kazuyuki Miyata needs to go for a submission early on in this fight if he is to win, he can't afford to stand and strike with DJ Taiki because Taiki has much better hands and will likely get a knock out victory if it stays standing. DJ Taiki has never been finished in a fight with all five of his losses coming via Decision so that's one thing to heavily consider, the way I see this one going would be for Daiki Hata to used his advantage on the feet and keep it there, he has decent enough take down defense to keep it on the feet and should collect a KO victory in the first round.
Featherweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Joe Warren
Bibiano Fernandes holds a 5-2 record with his only losses coming to top names in Urijah Faber & Kid Yamamoto, to date he has two submission and three decision victories to his name and is one of the favorites to win the entire Featherweight Tournament. Fernandes is currently riding a four fight win streak with his last two in the DREAM Featherweight Tournament over Takafumi Otsuka & Masakazu Imanari.
Joe Warren holds a 2-0 record, he entered the Featherweight Tournament with no fights under his belt and was considered a major underdog however after victories over two favorites in Chase Beebe & Kid Yamamoto he now considered a favorite to capture the DREAM Featherweight Championship.
This fight all comes down to whether Fernandes can get the Greco-Roman wrestling gold medalist on his back and submit him, personally I think he will get him on his back and control the fight but I don't think that he will defeat him, Bibiano has a great Jiu Jitsu game which will be the difference when it goes to the ground. There are too many unanswered questions about Joe Warren for me to place my prediction with him at this point he is inexperienced in the world of Mixed Martial Arts and in my opinion will be picked apart by Fernandes who will claim himself a Decision victory however it will not come easy.
Featherweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout: Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Hideo Tokoro
Hiroyuki Takaya holds an 11-6-1 record and is most well known for his stint in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) where he faced Leonard Garcia & Cub Swanson, losing in both of those bouts. Eight of his eleven victories have come by knock out with the other three coming via Decision, since leaving WEC Takaya has defeated both Jong Won Kim & Yoshiro Maeda which has taken him to the Semi-Finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix.
Hideo Tokoro holds a 22-16-1 record with victories over Royler Gracie,Shinya Sato, Alexandre Franca Nogueira and even a draw with Royce Gracie. Fourteen of his fights have ended with a submission with six decisions and two knock outs to his name also, in his last fight he defeated Abel Cullum to advance to the Semi-Finals.
Throughout the DREAM Tournaments we are yet to see a Japanese winner crowned, there was plenty of hype and pressure behind Hayato Sakurai to capture the Welterweight Grand Prix however Marius Zaromskis had something to say about that, provided that we don't get any injuries and the winner of the reserve bout isn't called in we are guaranteed to have a Japanese fighter in the finals of this tournament.
Tokoro needs to take Takaya to the ground and keep him there, he can't exchange with the heavy handed Takaya if he wants to stay in this fight for very long. Takaya has a clear edge in the stand-up department and will most likely use that to collect himself an early KO victory in the first marathon round.
Super Hulk Tournament Semi-Final Bout: Hong Man Choi vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Hong Man Choi holds a 2-2 MMA record with his only losses coming to two of the best Heavyweights of all time in Fedor Emelianenko & Mirko "Cro Cop" Flipovic, he has one victory via submission and one victory via knock out, at this stage he is coming off a dominate victory over Ex-Baseball star Jose Canseco.
Ikuhisa Minowa holds a 42-30-8 record for a grand total of 80 fights to his name, he holds victories over Don Frye, Phil Baroni & Kimo Leopoldo over his career with twenty-seven submissions, six knock outs and eight decisions to his name, in his last fight he defeated the giant Bob Sapp despite almost 150 pound weight difference.
I think that if Minowa is able to sustain the onslaught from the beginning that Hong Man Choi will bring then he shouldn't have too much trouble getting past Choi, Minowa is very good fighting guys who are a lot bigger than him like Sapp, Yvel or Kimo so I don't think Choi will pose much of a threat to Minowa who will likely submit him in the first round.
Super Hulk Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs Bob Sapp
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou holds a 6-3 record with victories over the likes of Ricardo Arona & Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, five of his six victories have come via knock out with the other coming via decision. Sokoudjou is most well known for his stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) where he went 1-2, in his last fight he appalled the viewing audience with his post fight actions after he defeated Jan Nortje he continued to strike Nortje even after the referee had jumped in between the two.
Bob Sapp holds a 10-5-1 MMA record and is one of the most recognizable MMA fighters in Japan, he holds victories over Min-Soo Kim & Yoshihiro Takayama and has stopped seven of his ten fights using his heavy hands with two decisions and one submission to his name also, he is currently on a two fight losing streak to Ikuhisa Minowa & Bobby Lashley.
Strikeforce's Light-Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi defeated Mark Hunt in the first round of the DREAM Super-Hulk Tournament however due to an injury likely sustained in an Exhibition Sparring Match with #1 ranked Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko he was forced out of the fight with Sokoudjou and Bob Sapp stepped in as his replacement.
Again much like the Choi/Minowa fight, Sokoudjou will have to sustain a rush of fury that will come from The Beast however after that initial burst of fury from Sapp if Sokoudjou is still on his feet then Sapp will likely gas and won't be quick enough to stop a rush of strikes from Sokoudjou so I will predict Sokoudjou to finish Sapp via TKO stoppage in the first marathon round.
The winner of the Super-Hulk Grand Prix is not determined on this card, it will be decided in December.
Lightweight Bout: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Melchor Manibusan
Melchor Manibusan holds a 2-3 record with one submission and one decision to his name, to date he is yet to have any notable victories but a win over Tatsuya Kawajiri would open a lot of eyes. He has not fought since 2006 when he last lost to Artur Oumakhanov.
Tatsuya Kawajiri holds a 24-5-2 record with wins over the likes of Joachim Hansen & Vitor Ribeiro, ten of his victories have come via knock out with seven decisions & six submissions also. He is currently on a two fight win-streak with victories over Ross Ebanez & Gesias Calvancante.
I suspect this fight to be heavily one sided, Kawajiri is a Top Ranked Lightweight in the world right now and Manibusan hasn't fought in almost three years and has no notable victories to his name, Manibusan has been knocked out twice in his career and I predict this will be number three. Kawajiri has great hands and once he mounts Manibusan and utilizes his Ground n' Pound the fight will be as good as over and put him right in the mix for a title shot at the winner of our main event.
DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix Final Bout: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
Now this is a match-up which may not take place because each fighter has to get past his initial opponent first but as a hypothetical scenario I will make my predictions for the finals for if it went exactly as I predicted.
When it comes to tournament fighting and when an opponent has fought previously in the night it comes down to who took the more punishment and who had the longer fight for the most part, if my predictions were to come true Takaya would be the fresher opponent and Fernandes would be exhausted after a long fifteen minutes with a Greco-Roman Wrestling Gold Medalist.
From the sounds of that, the likely choice would be to pick Takaya to use his good hands to keep this standing and finish the fight via TKO stoppage but I will go against the grain and predict Fernandes to take Takaya to the ground and control the fight from there, Takaya has only been submitted once by Genki Sudo but I think that Bibiano could use his Jiu Jitsu game to submit the Japanese prospect and crush the hopes of yet another Japanese audience.
DREAM Lightweight Championship Bout: Joachim Hansen (c) vs. Shinya Aoki
Joachim Hansen holds a 19-7-1 record with victories over the likes of Caol Uno, Kazuyuki Miyata and even his opponent Shinya Aoki, he holds seven knock out victories, seven decisions and five submission victories and is currently riding a two fight win streak.
Shinya Aoki holds a 21-4-0 record with victories over Vitor Ribeiro, Eddie Alvarez, Caol Uno, as well as Joachim Hansen, twelve of his victories have come via decision with six decisions and one knock out to his name also, in his last fight he defeated fellow submission specialist Vitor Ribeiro via decision.
As stated earlier each holds a victory over the other coming into their third fight which makes it that much more interesting, the first time they met Aoki submitted Hansen via gogoplata in Pride and last July when they met Hansen defeated Aoki via TKO stoppage, so both men have fought each other and know each others game well.
I think that they both know the others game plan and will be aware of that coming into their third fight, where the fight goes is the deciding factor when it comes to this fight since Aoki has a distinct edge on the ground and Hansen is much better on the feet so most would predict for this one to end in the first round just as their previous two battles did but I predict this one to go the distance with Aoki coming out on top, he will have trouble when on the feet but once he gets him to the ground he will beable to do enough to scrape out a decision.
DREAM 11 airs on Oct. 6 on HDnet and if you get it in your area I strongly suggest you check this one out.