by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photo courtesy of Dream)
Following a week-long roller coaster ride, UFC and Pride veteran Nick Diaz finally made his way to Japan late last week to compete under the Dream banner.
He had been scheduled to fight on the promotion’s April 29 event, but his proposed opponent, Marcello Garcia, declined the fight. Dream promptly rescheduled Diaz for its May 11 event against former welterweight King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue.
The problem arose when officials at ProElite, whom Diaz has a contract with, determined that the May 11 date was too close to its June 14 event where Diaz was also scheduled to compete. They pulled him from the fight.
As the deadline for the event neared, there was a change of heart within the ProElite organization and Diaz was finally granted permission to fight. He arrived in Japan just two days prior to the fight, but he made weight, made his to the arena, and made his way into Dream’s first welterweight championship bout.
“It took a long time for this fight to be set, and so I had a problem losing weight and that affected my performance,” said Diaz after the fight. “But I’m happy to win, and if they told me I had to get to (lightweight), I would do it.”
Diaz battered Inoue with his relentless striking game, finishing him off when Inoue’s corner had seen enough punishment dished out to the fighter and threw in the towel.
The bout was a welterweight title eliminator, so Diaz now moves on to the championship bout to face popular Japanese fighter Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Despite any difficulties that he had to overcome, he is happy to move on.
“I am looking forward to my next fight against Sakurai for the welterweight championship!” expressed an elated Diaz.
The bout is expected to take place on July 21 at DREAM.5 in Osaka, Japan.