by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Armenian fighter Gegard Mousasi became the Dream middleweight champion after knocking out Brazilian grappling wizard Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the finals of the Dream Middleweight Grand Prix at the Saitama Super Arena.
Jacare wasted no time as he shot in for a takedown, finally getting a grasp on Mousasi and slamming him to the ground. From there, Jacare looked to improve position as he worked to get into side mount, but instead settled to stand over Mousasi. He then attempted to drop a bomb on Mousasi, but was met with an up kick that knocked him out as Mousasi landed a couple of more strikes before the referee stopped the fight at 2:15.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Alistair Overeem’s fight was ruled a no contest after Cro Cop endured two accidental low blows. Overeem was controlling the fight up to that point, muscling Cro Cop to the ground and landing heavy blows from the top. They would be stood up, but Overeem again got it to the ground and continued his assault. Cro Cop was able to get back to his feet and was muscled into a clinch, where Overeem landed an accidental low blow. After a short rest the fight continued, but once again Cro Cop was kneed in the groin and this time he would not be able to continue, thus ruling the fight a no contest.
Shooto middleweight champion Shinya Aoki got back in the win column, making quick work of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran Todd Moore. After some brief fighting on the feet, Aoki was able to get Moore’s back while on the feet. Aoki locked on a neck crank, making Moore tap out with only 1:10 gone past in the fight.
Japanese judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama made it look easy against Japanese karate fighter Masanori Tonooka. After a brief feeling out process on the feet, Akiyama took the fight to the ground where he toyed with Tonooka with strikes and submissions before finally locking on a armbar at 6:26 of the opening round.
Japanese legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai rebounded from a surprising loss, winning a decision over fellow Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Kuniyoshi Hironaka. Sakurai was clearly the better striker as he peppered Hironaka with stinging low kicks and landing combinations to both the head and the body. Hironaka wanted the fight on the ground and was able to get it there, but wasn’t able to do much with the position.
Sakurai’s onslaught continued in the second as he out struck Hironaka, who showed tenacity by taking the punishment. As the fight was coming to a close, Sakurai dropped Hironaka with a left hook and almost finished him with strikes, but Hironaka survived to the bell. The judges’ cards were read and it was Sakurai who walked away with a unanimous decision.
Pancrase legend Masakatsu Funaki secured his first win since coming out of an eight-year retirement, submitting Ikuhisa Minowa with a heel hook. Funaki immediately got the fight to the ground, immediately falling back for a leg lock. After exchanging leg locks with Minowa, Funaki finally secured an inverted heel hook, forcing Minowa to tap out 42 seconds into the fight.
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto protégé Atsushi Yamamoto made a successful Dream debut, winning a decision over Japanese favorite Hideo Tokoro. Yamamoto looked confident on the feet, as he was able to out strike Tokoro, dropping him with a hard right straight, but was unable to finish him. Tokoro then threatened with submissions before they got back to their feet. Yamamoto again began tagging Tokoro on the feet, as he dropped his hands with confidence.
Again in the second round, Yamamoto was the superior striker, but surprisingly took the fight to the ground. That cost him as Tokoro reversed positions and almost locked on an armbar as the fight came to a close, but Yamamoto defended well and survived. At the end, Yamamoto walked away with a unanimous decision.
Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov knocked out late replacement Jimmy Armbriz in the opening round. Right off the bat, Kharitonov dropped him with a punch, but Ambriz got back up and went for a takedown. Kharitonov held the ropes to block, forcing the referee to give him a yellow card. The fight was restarted and Kharitonov picked Armbriz apart with strikes, eventually dropping him and forcing a tap from strikes at 2:15 of the first round.
Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura returned from a short retirement, getting back on the winning track as he out struck Kid Yamamoto trained Adriano Martins. All throughout the fight Nakamura used his reach advantage to jab away at Martins, who had no answer. On the occasion that fight went to the ground, Nakamura pounded away on Martins, who managed to cut Nakamura from the bottom. The second round was much of the same with Nakamura using his jab to frustrate Martins, leaving his face bruised by fights end. Surprisingly one judge scored the fight for Martins, but the other two in favor of Nakamura, who won a split decision.
Gegard Mousasi quickly punched his ticket to the middleweight final, submitting Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef in the first semi-final bout. Mousasi never let Manhoef get going as he quickly took the fight to the ground, getting Manheof’s back and briefly working for the choke. Manhoef reversed out, but was caught in a triangle choke. In a last ditch effort to escape, Manhoef tried to slam his way out, but Mousasi locked it on tighter, forcing a tap at 1:28 of the opening round.
Not to be outdone, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza also quickly got to the final, submitting Zelg Galesic. Jacare took the fight to the ground right away, absorbing small punches as he mounted Galesic. From there, he went for submissions before getting reversed by Galesic, who was immediately caught in an armbar, forcing him to tap at 1:26 of the first round.
In the middleweight reserve bout, Brazilian karate stylist Andrews Nakahara evened his mixed martial arts record, upsetting heavy favorite Dong Sik Yoon. Nakahara showed both excellent takedown and submission defense, using kicks to keep Yoon away. On the one occasion that it went to the ground, Nakahara fended off Yoon’s submission attempts and eventually escaped to his feet. The two fighters traded leather to start the second and that would be Yoon’s downfall as Nakahara connected with a combination, dropping Yoon and finishing him with strikes only 30 seconds into the second round.
Gegard Mousasi def. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza by KO at 2:15, R1
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Alistair Overeem was ruled a No Contest
Shinya Aoki def. Todd Moore by Submission (Neck Crank) at 1:10, R1
Yoshihiro Akiyama def. Masanori Tonooka by Submission (Armbar) at 6:26, R1
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Kuniyoshi Hironaka by Unanimous Decision, R2
Masakatsu Funaki def. Ikuhisa Minowa by Submission (Heel Hook) at 0:42, R1
Atsushi Yamamoto def. Hideo Tokoro by Unanimous Decision, R2
Sergei Kharitonov def. Jimmy Armbriz by TKO (Strikes) at 2:15, R1
Keita Nakamura def. Adriano Martins by Split Decision, R2
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza def. Zelg Galesic by Submission (Armbar) at 1:26, R1
Gegard Mousasi def. Melvin Manhoef by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:28, R1
Andrews Nakahara def. Dong Sik Yoon by TKO (Strikes) at 0:30, R2