- FIGHT-BY-FIGHT: DREAM 1 LIGHTWEIGHT GRAND PRIX

March 14, 2008
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by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com







DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Shinya
Aoki vs. Gesias “JZ” Calvancante

 

Shooto
Middleweight Champion Shinya Aoki takes on Hero’s Lightweight Grand Prix
Champion Gesias “JZ” Calvancante. Aoki has a 14-2 record and trains out of
Paraestra Tokyo with Yuki Naki. Calvancante has a 14-1-1 record and trains out
of American Top Team with Din Thomas.

 

Aoki comes
off a decision victory over Bu Kyung Jung at Yarennoka, while Calvancante
submitted Andre “Dida” Amade at Hero’s 10.

 

This bout
was originally scheduled to happen at Yarennoka, but injuries forced
Calvancante to withdraw from the fight, leaving that card without one of its
most anticipated fights. Whoever comes out the winner in this fight will become
a strong favorite to win the tournament.

 

Aoki has a
slight edge on the ground with his slick submission game, but in his last fight
he showed that he is indeed vulnerable to being submitted. Calvancante is no
slouch on the ground, but he typically uses his ground game to position himself
in order to ground and pound his opponents to a stoppage.

 

Calvancante
easily has the advantage on the feet being the more powerful and technical
striker of the two. Aoki’s biggest weakness still is his striking and
Calvancante will look to exploit that to it’s fullest.

 

Aoki needs to
get this fight on the ground as quickly as possible, moving into an
advantageous position to finish the fight by submission. Calvancante, on the
other hand, will want to keep the fight on the feet and batter Aoki with
strikes to come out victorious. Calvancante will be able to fend off Aoki’s
attempts to get the fight on the ground, tagging him repeatedly with strikes
before finally finishing him off on the ground.

 

Prediction:
Gesias “JZ” Calvancante by TKO in the first round.

 

 

DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Tatsuya
Kawajiri vs. Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill

 

Former
Shooto Welterweight Champion Tatsuya Kawajiri takes on Canadian kickboxer
Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill. Kawajiri has a 20-4-2 record and trains out of
T-Blood with Mitsuhiro Ishida. Gill has a 9-6 record and trains out of the
Revolution Fight Team with Kalib Starnes.

 

Kawajiri
comes off a decision victory over Luiz Azeredo at Yarennoka, while Gill stopped
Hideo Tokoro with strikes at Hero’s 9.

 

Kawajiri is
widely considered to be one of the best lightweights in the world. By winning
the tournament, he can make an argument for being thee best lightweight. Gill
has had an up and down career, but seems to be focused on turning some heads in
the tournament.

 

Kawajiri is
the better fighter on the ground, both in submissions and being a world-class
wrestler. Gill is the better striker of the two, but Kawajiri has been working
hard at becoming a better boxer, enlisting the help of one of Japan’s top
boxing coaches.

 

This fight
is plain and simple; Kawajiri will take the fight to the ground and outclass
Gill, exploiting his biggest weakness. He will relentlessly ground and pound
Gill until the fight is stopped, moving on to the second round without as much
as a scratch.

 

Prediction:
Tatsuya Kawajiri by TKO in the first round.

 

 

DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Andre
“Dida” Amade vs. Eddie Alvarez

 

Brazilian
striker Andre “Dida” Amade takes on former Bodog Fight Welterweight Champion
Eddie Alvarez. Amade has a 6-2-1 record and trains out of the Universidad de
Luta with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Alvarez has a 12-1 record and trains out of
the Fight Factory with Stephen Haigh.

 

Dida comes
off a submission loss to Calvancante at Hero’s 10, while Alvarez comes off a
stoppage victory over Ross Ebanez at ShoXC: Elite Challenger 4.

 

This will
no doubt be an all out war on the feet with each fighter going for the knockout
and not letting up till one of them gets it. Whoever wins this fight could end
up being a dark horse to win the tournament.

 

Dida has an
advantage on the feet when it comes to technique, mixing in kicks and knees
with punches to break down his opponents. Alvarez, on the other hand, will have
the punching power since he is moving down from welterweight to compete in the
tournament.

 

Dida is the
better submission fighter, but Alvarez is the better wrestler of the two.
Alvarez will have a size advantage, but that could hinder him at the same time
since it’s the first time he has cut down to lightweight.

 

Don’t
expect this fight to hit the ground until one of the fighters is flat on his
back and sleeping. Alvarez will look good early, tagging Dida with powerful
shots, but Dida’s technique and array of strikes will break Alvarez down over
time. He will finally land a fight-ending barrage to advance to the next round.

 

Prediction:
Andre “Dida” Amade by KO in the first round.

 

 

Heavyweight
Bout:

Mirko
Cro Cop vs. Tatsuya Mizuno

 

Pride Open
Weight Grand Prix 2006 Champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic takes on Pancrase
veteran Tatsuya Mizuno. Filipovic has a 22-6-2 record and trains out of the Cro
Cop Squad Gym in Croatia. Mizuno has a 3-2 record and trains out of the U-FILE
Camp with Kiyoshi Tamura.

 

Filipovic
comes off a decision loss to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75, while Mizuno stopped
Masayuki Kono with strikes at Pancrase Rising 9.

 

This will
be Filipovic’s first fight in Japan since winning the Pride Open Weight Grand
Prix in 2006. Mizuno has a chance to put himself on the MMA map with a victory
over the Croatian, who is still one of the better heavyweights in the world.

 

Filipovic easily
has the advantage on the feet, being a decorated kickboxer and former K-1
competitor. Mizuno, though, has an edge on the ground, but his lack of
wrestling skills will make it near impossible to get the fight on the ground.

 

Filipovic
didn’t have much success in the UFC, going 1-2 in the Octagon. He looked
nothing like the same fighter that won the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix. He
never seemed to be comfortable fighting in the cage and appeared like he didn’t
want to be there. Now he is back in Japan, where he is a beloved fighter and in
a more traditional ring.

 

He will get
back to his winning ways, out-classing a game Mizuno on the feet before
finishing him off with a knockout blow early in the fight.

 

Prediction:
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic by KO in the first round.

 

 

DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Mitsuhiro
Ishida vs. Bu Kyung Jung

 

Former
Shooto Pacific Rim Champion Mitsuhiro Ishida faces off with 2000 Olympic Judo
silver medalist Bu Kyung Jung. Ishida has a 15-3-1 record and trains out of
T-Blood with Tatsuya Kawajiri. Jung has a 0-1 record and trains out of South
Korea with Dong Sik Yoon.

 

Ishida
comes off a decision victory over Gilbert Melendez at Yarennoka, while Jung
dropped a decision to Shinya Aoki at the same show.

 

Ishida is
one of the favorites to win the entire tournament, but he faces a difficult
challenge in Jung, who opened many eyes in his MMA debut by exceeding
expectations. More than likely, the duration of the fight will be fought on the
ground with both fighters using different strategies.

 

A decorated
wrestler, Ishida likes to get his opponents to the ground and then pound on
them until they give in. Jung looked impressive against Aoki, nearly submitting
him on two occasions with an armbar and performing much better then anyone
expected.

 

Ishida will
take this fight to the ground and start to pound away on Jung’s face, while
Jung will relentlessly throw submissions at Ishida until one them locks on for
the finish. Jung’s problem is simple, Ishida is nearly impossible to submit and
it has been displayed in the past with his will to escape tight submissions.
Ishida should be able to pound on Jung throughout the fight, leaving his face
beaten while staying out of submissions.

 

Prediction:
Mitsuhiro Ishida by decision.

 

 

DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Artur
Oumakhanov vs. Katsuhiko Nagata

 

Cage Force
Lightweight Champion Artur Oumakhanov takes on 2004 Olympic Wrestling silver
medalist Katsuhiko Nagata. Oumakhanov has a 7-2 record and trains out of SK
Absolute Russia in Russia. Nagata has a 3-2 record and trains out of the New
Japan Factory with Masayuki Kono.

 

Oumakhanov
comes off a knockout loss to Shoji at Pancrase Shining 1, while Nagata comes
off a decision loss to Caol Uno at Hero’s 9.

 

Oumakhanov
has been touted as one the brightest prospects in the lightweight division in
Japan, but that’s until he faced stiffer competition. Nagata, although losing
to Uno, showed vast improvement and fought Uno to a back and forth decision.

 

The edge on
the feet goes to Oumakhanov, but he does at times get a little too cocky,
dropping his hands and leaving himself open for strikes. If Nagata is going to
do any damage on the feet, it’s going to be at those points of the fight where
he can exploit Oumakhanov’s over-confidence.

 

Neither is
a really a submission master per say, but Oumakhanov has a Sambo background
that gives him an advantage over Nagata, who is still a novice when it comes to
submissions. Nagata is easily a better wrestler and he needs to use that
effectively to win the fight.

 

Nagata will
take this fight to the ground and keep it there, not letting Oumakhanov get any
offense in. Although it’s good to be confident, Oumakhanov takes it to another
level and that has been what has led to his defeat in the past. Nagata will be
able to impose his will on Oumakhanov, becoming the first upset in the
tournament.

 

Prediction:
Katsuhiko Nagata by decision.

 

 

DREAM
Lightweight GP Bout:

Kazuyuki
Miyata vs. Luis “Buscape” Firmino

 

Japanese
wrestling standout Kazuyuki Miyata takes on Brazilian Top Team lightweight Luis
“Buscape” Firmino. Miyata has a 5-6 record and trains out of Japan. Buscape has
an 11-3 record and trains out of Brazilian Top Team with Murilo Bustamante.

 

Miyata
comes off a submission loss to Joachim Hansen at K-1 Dynamite!! 2007, while
Buscape comes off a decision victory over Nobuhiro Obiya at Pride Bushido 13.

 

This is one
of the more interesting fights of the first round. Miyata has steadily improved
since making his MMA debut in 2004 and Buscape has been regarded as one of the
better lightweights in Brazil. Expect this fight to be a long, drawn out battle
on the ground with both fighters having their moments.

 

Buscape is
the better fighter when it comes to submissions, while Miyata is the better
wrestler. It’s a pretty even match-up on the feet with neither fighter have
much of an advantage.

 

This fight
will come down to positioning and which fighter can control the other
effectively on the ground. Miyata will take the fight to the ground, but
Buscape will use his ground skills to reverse positions and be on top where he
can out-position Miyata. It will be a close decision, but Buscape’s better
positioning will win him the fight.

 

Prediction:
Luis “Buscape” Firmino by decision.

 


DREAM Lightweight GP Bout:

Koutetsu
Boku vs. Joachim Hansen

 

Former
Shooto Pacific Rim Welterweight Champion Koutetsu Boku takes on Pride veteran
Joachim Hansen. Boku has a 13-4-2 record and trains out of Krazy Bee with
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Hansen has a 16-6-1 record and trains out of Team
Wodan Norway in Norway.

 

Boku comes
off a decision loss to Artur Oumakhanov at Cage Force 5, while Hansen submitted
Kazuyuki Miyata at K-1 Dynamite!! 2007.

 

Not a lot
of attention has been paid to this fight, but it could be one of the better
fights of the night. Either one of these fighters could do a lot of damage in
the tournament and become the dark horse to win it all.

 

Boku is the
better wrestler of the two, but Hansen is the better submission fighter. On the
feet, Boku is a more technical striker with slick boxing, while Hansen has more
power in his strikes and is dangerous with his knees.

 

This fight
has fireworks written all over it. This will be an all out war between two
fighters that are being overlooked in the tournament. Both fighters will tag
each other with shots on the feet, but the difference in the fight will be
Boku’s takedowns and strikes from the top, staying out of any submissions that
Hansen will throw at him en route to a decision.

 

Prediction:
Koutetsu Boku by decision.

 

Welterweight
Bout:

Hayato
“Mach” Sakurai vs. Hidetaka Monma

 

Former
Shooto Middleweight Champion Hayato “Mach” Sakurai faces off with Cage Force
veteran Hidetaka Monma. Sakurai has a 31-7-2 record and trains out of Mach Dojo
in Japan. Monma has a 14-7-2 record and trains out of Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3
with Yushin Okami.

 

Sakurai
comes off a dominating decision victory over Hidehiko Hasegawa at Yarennoka,
while Monma submitted Korean fighter Yong Fun Lee at Cage Force EX Eastern
Bound.

 

Several
fighters turned down a fight with Sakurai, but Monma stepped up and accepted
the bout without hesitation. Sakurai has resurrected his career, winning seven
out of his last eight fights and doing so in impressive fashion.

 

Both
fighters are good ground fighters, but the edge goes to Monma, who has one of the
sport’s most dangerous guards. Sakurai is no slouch either on the ground, but
he uses it to better position himself than to submit opponents.

 

Easily it’s
Sakurai who is the better fighter on the feet with powerful and technical
strikes that can end the fight in an instant. Monma will want the fight on the
ground in a hurry to avoid Sakurai’s onslaught on the feet.

 

Sakurai
should be able to control the fight on the feet, battering Monma with strikes
before finally finishing him on the ground with a barrage of strikes.

 

Prediction:
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai by TKO in the first round.

 

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