Dream Fighters Have Talent, But Are They Cursed On American Soil?

Sam NassarCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2010

After the curtain fell bringing the Dream 15 event to a close, there were several questions that came to mind.  Dream has many exciting fighters competing in their ranks including Shinya Aoki, JZ Calvancante, Melvin Manhoef and Marius Zaromskis, but do these premier Dream combatants really have what it takes on the world stage?

Strikeforce and Dream have partnered up to bring fans matchups that cross between promotions and give excitement to all who would like to see.  However, the Dream fighters have fallen short in every contest off of Japanese soil.  

Gegard Mousasi is one of the lone fighters who has competed in Dream in the past and found success abroad.  What does this mean for Dream as a promotion and Japanese MMA as a whole?

Dream has given us fantastic upsets, dynamic submissions and crushing knockouts since their inception, but why are their top fighters falling short in the states?  There are several reasons that can be used to explain why this has happened.  

There are several rule differences between Japan and US versions of MMA--most notably the scoring system and allowances of strikes during the fights.  Japanese MMA scores bouts as a whole rather than the US system of round by round scoring.  This can cause a difference in the outcome of a fight. 

Rather than losing a round and having to regroup, Japanese fighters can rally back for an upset win later in the fight if they can muster up the courage to do so.  

Fighters in Dream are also allowed to knee and kick grounded opponents which can make a serious difference in a fight--just as Melvin Manhoef found out, first hand, at Dream 15 when he was kneed on the ground continuously by his opponent, Tatsuya Mizuno.   

There may be further explanation stateside with all major promotions, including Strikeforce, using a cage to contain the combat rather than the more traditional ring in Dream.  Dream has hosted very few events using their white cage to hold the bout.  This may show us that Dream fighters may simply be inexperienced in the cage, having much more experience inside the ring with stand ups and restarts being commonplace.  

Finally, is it simply a matter of a talent difference between Dream fighters and US combatants?  We have seen Melvin Manhoef put on a striking clinic against Robbie Lawler only to get knocked out at the tail end of the fight.  Recently Marius Zaromskis also fell to “Cyborg” Santos via a vicious hook followed up with some vicious ground and pound.  

In another matchup that seemed fantastic on paper, Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez outworked and out-struck Dream’s golden boy, Shinya Aoki, beating him all the way to the final bell.  

Dream has shown itself to be a fine promotion with game fighters who are ready to do battle, but is the competition in the US simply too much for even the best Dream fighters? 

Dream has put on fantastic shows with drama, respect and skill in droves, but their fighters may need to step their games up on an international level to have fans recognizing them as a true force in MMA.  

Without some wins against US opponents fans are more familiar with, the Japanese promotion may only be a “Dream” in the land of the rising sun.