by MMAWeekly.com
Dream on Saturday not only held the first round of its Lightweight Grand Prix, but it also announced several of the participants for its Middleweight Grand Prix.

Returning to the Saitama Super Arena on April 29, Dream’s middleweight tournament now officially includes among its participants: Kazushi Sakuraba, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Masakatsu Funaki, Dong-Sik Yoon, Taiei Kin, Shungo Oyama, and Ikuhisa Minowa.

Sakuraba, interestingly enough, holds victories over Funaki, Yoon, and Minowa. He was also involved in a controversial match with Akiyama. Akiyama had initially won the bout with Sakuraba, but it was later ruled a no contest when it was revealed that Akiyama had illegally applied a lotion to his skin that made him slippery.

Funaki’s loss to Sakuraba on Dec. 31, 2007, marked his return to active mixed martial arts competition after more than seven years of inactivity.

Maintaining a 10-1 professional record with two no contests, Akiyama’s most recent bout was a no contest with Kazuo Misaki at the Dec. 31 Yarennoka event in Japan. Akiyama was knocked out by a Misaki soccer kick, which upon review was deemed an illegal blow because Akiyama was ruled to be a downed opponent at the time the kick landed.

Yoon lost the first four bouts of his career, but has rebounded of late, putting together three straight victories against solid competition.

A karate stylist, Kin has had a short career in MMA, with a 2-2 record. The first bout of his career was a loss to Akiyama.

Oyama is a journeyman fighter that has constantly bounced back and forth between winning and losing in his career. His most recent performance was an impressive finish of Carlos Newton at a K-1 Hero’s event late last year.

Another career journeyman, Minowa last competed on Saturday’s inaugural Dream event. He dispatched Kwan Bun Lee with a kneebar little more than a minute into the bout.

Although neither was officially announced by Dream, No. 4 ranked middleweight Denis Kang and Japanese fighter Kiyoshi Tamura are both rumored to be part of the Middleweight Grand Prix field, as well.