September 25, 2010

by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com It took twice as long as the betting lines indicated, but Gegard Mousasi was crowned the first ever Dream light heavyweight champion on Saturday night at Dream 16 in Nagoya, Japan.

Mousasi stymied nearly every attempt by Tatsuya Mizuno to mount any offense, taking him down at will and ground and pounding him, but Mizuno never made it easy. The Japanese underdog came out trying to fire up a striking attack, and when Mousasi put him on the mat, he continually searched for submissions or reversed position, only to keep returning to his back with Mousasi on top of him.

Following a final flurry of reversals, Mousasi slipped onto Mizuno’s back and quickly sank in the fight-ending rear naked choke just past the midway point of the opening round.

“I feel like Dream is my home, so I’m very glad to accomplish my goals, and that is to win the second belt,” said Mousasi after the fight.

The light heavyweight title was the Armenian’s second under the Dream banner. He also held the middleweight championship briefly before declaring that he could no longer make the weight, moving up to the 205-pound division.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller on Saturday night did what four different members of the Gracie family, including Royce and Renzo, could not do. He submitted Japanese mixed martial arts demigod Kazushi Sakuraba… and he made it look easy.

Miller did a good job sprawling on Sakuraba’s takedown attempts. When Sakuraba, who found himself on his back with Miller towering over him, attacked one of the “Bully Beatdown” host’s legs, Miller dropped down on top of Sakuraba in a sort of half-mount position. He tagged Sakuraba with a few punches before slipping off into an arm triangle choke that left the legendary fighter with no choice but to submit.

Obviously emotional after the fight, Miller apologized. “I’m sorry for punching you older brother Sakuraba,” who is someone that Miller has looked up to.

“This has been my dream, my whole life. And I say to everyone believe in yourself because you can live the dream.”

In what easily ranks among Shinya Aoki’s least entertaining victories, the Dream lightweight champion still walked away with a win. Known for his unique and bone-breaking submissions, Aoki instead took Pride and UFC veteran Marcus Aurelio to the mat and used his legs to lock a triangle hold around the Brazilian’s legs. The majority of the fight was spent in this position with Aoki peppering Aurelio with punches and walking away with a clear unanimous decision.

Aoki may have been playing it safe against Aurelio, who is a high-level submission specialist himself. There has been much speculation that Aoki is on tap for a New Year’s Eve rematch with Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez, whom Aoki lost to earlier this year. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was ringside at Dream 16, adding fuel to the fire.

Despite being a last minute swap-in, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist in judo Satoshi Ishii took full advantage of his opportunity – 40 pound weight advantage – against crowd favorite Ikuhisa Minowa. Ishii used his judo and grappling skills to nullify Minowa’s striking attack and submissions, dominating where the fight went with his takedowns and positioning on the mat.

Ishii didn’t make it an exciting bout, but he did overcome Minowa’s vast advantage in experience to earn his second mixed martial arts victory in three attempts.

Hiroyuki Takaya followed up a win over Joachim Hansen earlier this year with a quick finish of former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe. Beebe looked good early, nearly landing two high knees to Takaya’s chin, but it was Takaya that stepped in with a left hook that floored Beebe. Takaya followed him to the mat and quickly followed up with several more punches that finished the fight.

Michihiro Omigawa ate knee early from WEC veteran Cole Escovedo, but quickly wrestled him to the mat and never looked back. Omigawa attempted a topside choke from side control, but Escovedo reversed position and escaped. From his back with Escovedo in his guard, Omigawa then secured a reverse armbar that may have popped Escovedo’s elbow out of place.

Omigawa proclaimed himself “the center of the featherweight world” after his win over Escovedo, but Takaya begged to differ, saying he was the true center of the featherweight universe.

Takaya lost by TKO to Omigawa at last year’s Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve event. Sounds as if a rematch may be in the works for this year’s New Years extravaganza.

Former Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen earned his twentieth professional victory, ending a three-fight skid, by submitting Hideo Tokoro. Hansen was headed down the wrong track early, landing two low kicks to Tokoro’s groin, garnering Hansen a yellow card penalty that is accompanied by a 10-percent deduction from his pay.

Tokoro fired back after the timeout with an impressive flurry of punches and kicks that had Hansen off balance, but the Norwegian rushed Tokoro to the mat, eventually securing a triangle choke from top mount. Tokoro turned Hansen over, picking him up and slamming him back to the mat, but Hansen only re-locked the triangle choke in textbook fashion for the submission.

Kazuyuki “Little Hercules” Miyata set the tone early in his fight with “Lion” Takeshi Inoue, scoring with two huge belly-to-back suplexes. Miyata continued to control the fight with numerous takedowns that kept Inoue from finding any sort of rhythm in his striking attack. Inoue used a strong butterfly guard to stave off any damage once on the mat, but he couldn’t find a way to stop the takedowns in the first place, Miyata walking away with the unanimous decision.

Save for an early flurry of punches and a flying knee coupled with a last minute flurry that bloodied Mitsuhiro Ishida’s face, Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura had no answer for Ishida’s far superior wrestling game. Try as he might to mount his aggressive offensive attack, Wicky couldn’t stop Ishida’s takedowns and positional control.

The split decision victory marked Ishida’s second straight win since dropping down to featherweight.

In a fight that literally came together at the last minute – just prior to weigh-ins in fact – British heavyweight James Thompson showed marked improvement against DEEP Megaton champion Yusuke Kawaguchi, but it wasn’t enough for the judges. Kawaguchi dropped Thompson once in the opening round and rocked him on a couple other occasions, which is likely what swayed two of the judges to choose him over Thompson, who had Kawaguchi grounded and pounded at the end of both rounds.

-Gegard Mousasi def. Tatsuya Mizuno by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 6:10, R1
-Jason “Mayhem” Miller def. Kazushi Sakuraba by Submission (Arm Triangle) at 2:09, R1
-Shinya Aoki def. Marcus Aurelio by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Satoshi Ishii def. Ikuhisa Minowa by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Hiroyuki Takaya def. Chase Beebe by TKO (Strikes) at 1:45, R1
-Michihiro Omigawa def. Cole Escovedo by Submission (Reverse Armbar) at 2:30, R1
-Joachim Hansen def. Hideo Tokoro by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 2:48, R1
-Kazuyuki Miyata def. “Lion” Takeshi Inoue by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Mitsuhiro Ishida def. Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura by Split Decision, R2
-Yusuke Kawaguchi def. James Thompson by Split Decision, R2