In the hailstorm of Affliction and UFC stories it seems many fans have forgotten about Dream. The corporation that was so readily accepted as the successor to Pride was discarded quickly and forgotten. Like many, I waited anxiously for Dream 1 and hoped it would live up to my beloved Pride's imprint in MMA. It was a great card, with Hansen, Sakurai, Aoki, and a cameo by Cro Cop. What went wrong?
Since Dream 1 ended it seems the corporation has gone relatively unnoticed, sometimes even playing second fiddle to fellow Japanese promotions Sengoku and Shooto. Dream has also lost a lot of starpower with only Overeem, Sakurai, and Cro Cop holding it up. Not to mention that Cro Cop has vowed to return to the UFC after a few wins. Overeem was a 2nd class star who was athletic and gifted, but his performance remains unpredictable. Sakurai is a star in Japan, but unknown globally. This makes it hardly as marketable as Pride was.
Now Dream has to contend with Affliction, who may be stealing former Pride stars from former Pride management. Ouch! At least Dream could have thought Fedor or Barnett might want to come to Dream after they had nestled themselves into Japanese MMA in Pride FC. However, money is the cause of alot of things, and wa-la Donald Trump appears and snatches away some of Dream's best draws.
If not for Cro Cop's UFC debacle Dream may have been out of luck with a completely wiped out heavyweight division. I do enjoy its lighter weight classes in fighters like Yamamoto, Aoki, and Alvarez, but its hard to have a serious corporation when your higher weight classes are almost entirely void of real talent.
Not even legends like Sakuraba have been able to revive Dream as he was smashed by Melvin Manhoef at the last event. It seems that Japanese MMA and its shorter rule sheet, rings instead of cages, and 10 minute rounds have lost their luster.
It is a shame that Japanese MMA has lost its place in the world of sports. Its technicality and fans are really first class. I don't even think Japanese fans would have booed Kalib Starnes. Also, they see intricate maneuvers as exciting. I believe this is why submission artists like Aoki are so celebrated.
This is no disrespect to MMA fans in the US, but we are more bloodthirsty. Slugfests are what its all about. Is there any ultimate submissions show? No. That's because we love knockouts. There's no way around it.
I just believe Dream has failed all fans of Japanese MMA by letting Affliction take the torch as they sat idly by. Its really awful seeing as "Little Mirko" Zelg Galesic, one of the more exciting young strikers in the world of MMA, is coming up in an era where he will get little exposure and appreciation. Not to mention Kid Yamamoto or Jacare. These men have proven themselves just as much as a Gomi or Sakurai, but due to their timing will not have any chance at being as famous or exposed.
It seems unfair that two American companies will compete for title of king of MMA, but I bet Dana is pleased. This means he has to compete with a company that is looking for the same fan base. With most casual fans not even referring to MMA as MMA, rather calling it "UFC fighting" or "Ultimate Fighting," the established powerhouse has the upperhand.
I can only hope the die-hards and real fans of foreign and non-UFC MMA fans can give these upstarts a chance to thrive. Who doesn't benefit from some competition?