DREAM.11 is the last event of 2009 that DREAM has on primetime TV—let's hope it goes smoothly, hmm?
All odds here are given as decimals, where the value is your total return assuming that you bet 1.00. So, 1.55 means that the fighter you bet on will give you a profit of 0.55, plus the original 1.00.
Lines taken from Bodog.
Shinya 'Tobikan Judokan' Aoki vs Joachim 'Hellboy' Hansen
+Jiu Jitsu and Judo black belt
+Will always get a fight to the mat
+Particularly dangerous rubber guard who defends well against ground and pound
-Striking is powerless
-Ground and pound very weak
Eddie Alvarez (2008)
Caol Uno (2008)
Gesias Calvancante (2008)
+Good with submissions
+Great chin, and has never been KO'd
-One year of inactivity
Shinya Aoki (2008)
Caol Uno (2005)
Gesias Calvancante (2004)
Takanori Gomi (2003)
The BJJ black belt is certain to get the fight to the ground versus a hard hitter with good sub defense and good ground and pound. There is no easy way to predict this.
Aoki was certainly more worn when they last fought—and Hansen ended the fight with GnP—because of his unanimous decision win over Caol Uno, but is this going to be the deciding factor in this rubber match?
First thing, I think Aoki will alter his strategy this time around, and not be so quick to pull guard against Hansen, for obvious reasons, and instead try to take him to the mat conventionally.
He should manage that—Hansen doesn't have that much wrestling skill—and once he does hit the ground...well, it wasn't that long ago that Hansen was stuck in a gogoplata from the same Aoki. So he'll be uncomfortable to say the least.
Also, Hansen hasn't fought in more than a year, since he beat Aoki for the belts. In the mean time, Aoki has fought Alvarez, Moore, Sakurai, and Shaolin. It's undeniable who the fitter opponent is.
Leaning towards Aoki by submission, Round One, avenging his loss from more than a year ago. But at 1.47, Aoki really isn't great value. Hansen at 2.75 is quite good, and I'd feel better backing the Norwegian.
Hong Man Choi vs. Ikuhisa 'The Punk' Minowa
Hong Man Choi
+Massive size and reach advantage; stands at 7'2'', 330lbs
-No ground game
-Zombie-like mobility; no footwork or head movement of any kind
+Good with submissions
+Very good heart
-Terribly undersized for openweight
Minowa shocked me by submitting Sapp, but I do not expect to be shocked twice. Hong Man Choi is even larger than Sapp, and has a better takedown defense, having experience in the Korean sumo-like sport of ssireum.
Choi's submission defense probably isn't as good as it was before, due to the pituitary gland surgery that he had in 2008 that caused him to lose tremendous weight and strength, but it should still be good enough to defend Minowa's leg locks—if Minowa takes Choi down with a single leg, I'll be amazed.
And it will have to be a single leg, since it's doubtful Minowa could wrap his arms around Choi's waist for a double.
Hard to see Choi losing this fight. I would expect him to get the (T)KO relatively early, maybe through a knee in the clinch as Minowa shoots in.
Minowa enters at 2.45, while Choi enters at 1.57. Gotta stick with Choi here.
Bob 'The Beast' Sapp vs. Rameau Thierry 'The African Assassin' Sokoudjou (Openweight)
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
+Good, versatile striking
+Hits with awesome force
-No submission game
+Huge size advantage, weighing 160kg
+Can generate force behind punches
-No grappling skill
-Lacks technical striking
With the unfortunate loss of Gegard Mousasi from the tournament, we are left with Bob Sapp to fill in against Sokoudjou.
Sapp has size, but not much else...in fact, not anything else.
Sokoudjou is a better striker and a harder hitter, and even has better cardio and a better ground game, should the Cameroonian wish to take it there.
Sokudjou also has an actual aspiration to get somewhere in MMA and is not content fighting for publicity.
Sokoudjou by TKO, Round One, disposing of Sapp with the first good blow he connects with.
Sapp enters as a huge underdog, at 5.00. Sokoudjou enters at 1.16. I'm tempted to bet on the underdog, but in this case, I think I'll stick with Sokoudjou, backing him in conjunction with Choi.
Extra Prediction: Hong Man Choi vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
Sokoudjou is a more powerful hitter, a better striker, and a better grappler (though I wouldn't expect this to go to the mat, because of the difficulty throwing Choi would present), while Choi has a tremendous reach advantage.
Choi will not be able to chase and corner him any better than he did with Cro Cop, and if Sokoudjou employs the same strategy he should have success—presuming he can time Choi's striking and not get frustrated by the reach disadvantage.
Sokoudjou by TKO, Round Two, bring Choi's MMA record back into the negatives. The one doubt I have is the African's cardio, which may cost him if he takes long to beat Sapp.
No odds here, just predicting.
EDIT: Ugh, forgot the finals of the SHT were at DREAM.12.
EDIT 2: Not DREAM.12, Dynamite.
Bibiano 'The Flash' Fernandes vs. Joe Warren
+Mundials super featherweight champion in 2005 and 2006
+Grappling has transferred to MMA very well
+Very sticky grappler; hard to shake off or sprawl against
-Striking is rough, weak, and timid
-Very rough ground and pound
Masakazu Imanari (2009)
+Best wrestler in the division; was tipped for Olympic gold in Beijing before being suspended for marijuana smoking
+Baptism of fire
+Striking clean and powerful; has a very good Muay Thai clinch
-Still unknown how good his submission defense truly is
Norimfumi Yamamoto (2009)
Chase Beebe (2009)
Warren isn't ending up on his back in this one unless he's swept. Fernandes' wrestling isn't good enough to put him there, and his striking isn't going to produce any knockdowns.
With that out of the way, we can expect Fernandes to try pulling guard desperately, something he has done very well before against wrestlers better than himself.
Warren is the best wrestler he will ever face—one of the best wrestlers any mixed martial artist has ever faced—but Fernandes comes in with some pretty intense non-MMA related credentials himself, being a two-time Mundials champ.
Warren did seem to have some submission defense from his fight with KID, but on the ground, KID isn't in the same league as Bibiano.
So, Warren is going to employ sprawl and brawl, and Fernandes will attempt to pull guard. Straightforward enough.
I picked against Warren with confidence at DREAM.7 against Chase Beebe, I picked against him with extreme confidence against KID at DREAM.9.
Well, I'm doing it once more (but not with confidence). Bibiano by submission, Round Two.
If I'm wrong, I will not pick against Warren for a long time.
Warren is at 1.56, while Fernandes at 2.50, so of course Fernandes is where my money is.
Hideo Tokoro vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
+Highly dangerous submissions off back
+Very good, positional based grappling
-Not a great wrestler
-Very weak striking power, with just two (T)KOs to his name
+Good technical boxer
-Poor grappler and never submitted anyone
-No aggressive wrestling
Tokoro is the more well-rounded and multi-dimensional fighter of the two, but will he be able to take advantage of it?
If Tokoro can get it to the ground, it could spell trouble for Takaya. But Takaya's sprawl is awesome, and his striking is better than Tokoro's, so the fight looks like a particularly unkind one for Tokoro.
Takaya is the perfect counter to Tokoro, and I think he'll score a TKO, Round Two.
Takaya enters at 1.40, while Tokoro is at 2.90—which is too good of a line to pass up, so I'll have to go with Tokoro.
Bibiano Fernandes vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
Well, Takaya has a striking advantage, as nearly everyone Fernandes has faced in the GP had, but once again Fernandes has a monumental advantage grappling and has taken nearly every fighter he has ever faced to the mat.
But in order to get here, Fernandes would have fought Warren, which could be an incredible tax on his energy—but Takaya would hardly have got here easily either.
Fernandes by unanimous decision, taking Takaya to the mat through sweeps and regular wrestling.
Recap on GP odds:
Field (any fighter not listed)
Tokoro is worth a small play as well as field—anyone at odds like that is value, and any anything can happen in a GP. Bibiano enters at decent odds, so he has my money.