by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
DREAM MIDDLEWEIGHT GP SEMI-FINAL BOUT:
RONALDO “JACARE” SOUZA VS. ZELG GALESIC
Former Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza takes on Croatian striker Zelg Galesic. Souza comes off a hard earned decision victory over Jason “Mayhem” Miller at Dream 4, while Galesic won a stoppage over Taiei Kin earlier in the night.
Unlike the other semi-final, there is a sharp contrast in styles in this fight, which more than likely will result in a definite finish. The stakes are high, so expect both fighters to fight like they have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
Tactics are fairly obvious in this fight. Souza wants it on the ground and Galesic wants to keep the fight on the feet. The longer it stays on the feet, the better chance Galesic has to land a fight-ending blow. Once it hits the ground expect Souza to easily lock on a submission in his favor.
It’s inevitable that the fight will hit the ground and that doesn’t bode well for Galesic, who will be a fish out of water with Souza on the ground. Galesic may be able to get a strike or two in, but that’s all he’ll get, as Souza will finish the fight fairly quick.
DREAM MIDDLEWEIGHT GP SEMI-FINAL BOUT:
GEGARD MOUSASI VS. MELVIN MANHOEF
In a battle of Dutch products, Armenian born fighter Gegard Mousasi faces off with Dutch terror Melvin Manhoef. Mousasi comes off a rather dominant decision victory over Dong Sik Yoon at Dream 4, while Manhoef made fairly easy work of Kazushi Sakuraba later in the night.
Out of the two semi-final fights, this is going to be the more taxing bout because either fighter has a legitimate chance of winning the whole tournament. One thing is for sure, these fighters are going to put on an exciting show.
Both are versatile strikers, but Mousasi is more technical, while Manhoef is more powerful and aggressive. The big difference between the two is on the ground, where Mousasi is the far better fighter. Manhoef has yet to show any improvement in his ground game.
These two will test each other on the feet, but once Manhoef starts his ultra aggressive attack expect Mousasi to take the fight to the ground. He will wait for Manheof to make a mistake, take advantage and lock on a submission to move into the finals.
MIRKO “CRO COP” FILIPOVIC VS. ALISTAIR OVEREEM
Feared Croatian striker Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic faces off with a newly rejuvenated Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. Cro Cop comes off a relatively easy stoppage victory over Tatsuya Mizuno at Dream 1, while Overeem submitted K-1 veteran Mark Hunt at Dream 5.
There has been a lot of trash talking between these two. After months of talk, they’ll finally meet in the ring to settle the score. Whoever wins the fight will put themselves in a good position to fight for the Dream heavyweight championship down the line.
Both are strikers, but Cro Cop has a slight edge because of his power and technique, while Overeem wears fighters down over a period of time. On the ground, Overeem is the better equipped fighter being a former ADCC qualifier and having a versatile guillotine choke.
To counter Overeem’s ground game, Cro Cop has brought in Dean Lister to help him prepare for anything that happens if the fight does got to the ground. If the fight goes as expected, Cro Cop should be able to cut off the ring and eventually corner Overeem, finishing him off with a knockout blow.
SHINYA AOKI VS. TODD MOORE
Dream Lightweight GP runner-up Shinya Aoki returns to action against WEC veteran Todd Moore. Aoki comes off a disappointing stoppage loss to Joachim Hansen at Dream 5, while Moore was submitted by NCAA wrestler Shane Roller at WEC 35.
Both fighters will be looking to get back on the winning track, so expect them to take more risks then usual.
If the fight hits the ground, consider it pretty much over for Moore, as Aoki is one of the most talented grapplers in the world. If Moore wants any chance to win the fight then he must do everything in his power to keep it on the feet, where he can possibly catch Aoki off guard.
It will be only a matter of time before the fight goes on the ground. Once that happens, consider Moore’s night to be over, as Aoki will end the fight with a submission.
HAYATO “MACH” SAKURAI VS. KUNIYOSHI HIRONAKA
Japanese MMA legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai takes on UFC veteran Kuniyoshi Hironaka. Both fighters have had mixed results so far this year and need a win to gain some momentum going into next year. If Sakurai shows up to fight then he should be able to overwhelm Hironaka on the feet with his powerful strikes; if not, Hironaka has a chance to win. He would need to get the fight to the ground where he can use his grappling advantage to submit Sakurai. Sakurai needs a win so expect him to show up and get the job done late with strikes.
HIDEO TOKORO VS. ATSUSHI YAMAMOTO
Japanese superstar Hideo Tokoro faces off with Shooto veteran Atsushi Yamamoto. This should end up being one of the better fights of the night as both fighters fight at an exciting pace. Tokoro has the advantage when it comes to submissions and size, while Yamamoto is the better wrestler. Whoever can dictate the fight on the feet will win and Tokoro should be able to use his size advantage to do just that, winning a decision.
YOSHIHIRO AKIYAMA VS. MASANORI TONOOKA
Controversial Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama takes on the inexperienced karate fighter Masanori Tonooka. This is simply a tune-up for Akiyama, as he gets ready to face someone of better caliber on New Year’s Eve. He should be able to finish this fight either on the feet or on the ground, whichever he chooses. He’ll want to prove a point, so expect him to finish off Tonooka with strikes.
SERGEI KHARITONOV VS. JIMMY ARMBRIZ
Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov faces off with late replacement Jimmy Armbriz. Kharitonov was one of the better heavyweights in Pride, but has been relatively inactive since its demise, only fighting once in the last year. Kharitonov was supposed to fight Mighty Mo, but now he’ll have a much easier time against Armbriz, who is slower and not as skilled as Mo. Look for Kharitonov to use movement and angles to overwhelm a slower Armbriz, eventually catching him with a fight-ending barrage of strikes.
KEITA “K-TARO” NAKAMURA VS. ADRIANO MARTINS
UFC veteran Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura faces off with Brazilian import Adriano Martins. Nakamura comes out of semi retirement as he stopped fighting because of an eye injury sustained in his last fight, but it looks to be healed up. Martins has been training with Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and that should help him round out the rough edges of his game. Look for Nakamura to get back on the winning track, as he wins a competitive decision over Martins after fifteen minutes of exciting action.
IKUHISA MINOWA VS. MASAKATSU FUNAKI
The always-eccentric middleweight Ikuhisa Minowa takes on Pancrase legend Masakatsu Funaki. This fight was put together to satisfy the mainstream Japanese audience. Minowa will be fighting someone his size and that will play to his advantage, as he will out hustle the slower Funaki, who hasn’t looked very good at all since making his comeback. Once the fight hits the ground, look for Minowa to lock on a submission after a short struggle.
DREAM MIDDLEWEIGHT GP RESERVE BOUT:
DONG SIK YOON VS. ANDREWS NAKAHARA
Korean judoka Dong Sik Yoon faces off with karate stylist Andrews Nakahara. Yoon has been making some good progress after starting 0-4 in his MMA career, going 4-1 since then. Nakahara made his debut against Sakuraba and it didn’t turn out to well for him and it won’t go so well against Yoon either. Yoon won’t waste any time, as he’ll get the fight to the ground and shortly thereafter submit the inexperienced Nakahara to become the reserve fighter.