(Reporting by Erik Fontanez and Damon Martin)
A proposed fight between Shinya Aoki and Willamy Freire appears to be off for Dream’s “Fight for Japan” event on May 29. The Dream lightweight champion will remain on the card, but in an interesting twist to the situation, it is unclear whom he will face.
MMAWeekly.com initially reported that a fight between he and former MFC lightweight champion Antonio McKee was on tap, as long as McKee could finalize his travel details. While that fight is very much still in play, our sources indicate that Dream is also negotiating with former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner.
Sources close to the situation told MMAWeekly.com that the fight between Aoki and McKee had been verbally agreed to, at least from McKee’s side, and that a bout agreement had been issued. McKee, though, must first renew his passport and get a visa to gain entry into Japan, the same sort of issues that reportedly kept Freire out of the fight.
But now multiple sources say that Varner is also in the running with a bout agreement on the table.
There are hiccups for either fighter getting the shot at Aoki, and the final details have obviously not been ironed out. McKee has to make sure his travel documents can be cleared up in time, and Varner had been scheduled to fight in Chicago at next week’s XFO event. Neither is an insurmountable hurdle.
The decision will likely come down to which route Dream wants to take. “Fight for Japan” is a relief effort following the recent tsunami and earthquake disasters in Japan. Couple that with the fact that the mixed martial arts industry as a whole has been struggling in Japan, and Dream is likely going to factor not only who can reliably make it to the fight, but also the costs involved.
(UPDATED at 5:00 p.m. ET on May 6 to include Jamie Varner as a possible opponent.)
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