by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com (Photos courtesy of Dream)
(Photos courtesy of Dream)

DREAM held its second event in the last month, staging DREAM 8 from Nagoya, Japan. The event was highlighted by the opening round of the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix.

In the main event of the evening, Japanese grappling wizard Shinya Aoki faced off with Japanese mixed martial arts legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Sakurai came out flying with a knee, but soon found himself on his back. Sakurai was able to get back to his knees then landed two devastating knees that stunned Aoki. He finished it up with several punches that put Aoki to sleep with only 27 seconds past in the fight. Sakurai moves on to the next round and now has to be considered the favorite to win the tournament.

Affliction veteran Jason High got back on the winning track after choking out DEEP veteran Yuya Shirai. High came out the aggressor, landing two straight lefts that dropped Shirai as he secured his back. It didn’t take long before High had the choke sunk, putting Shirai to sleep only 59 seconds into the fight. With the win, High advances to the next round of the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix.

What can only be described as an amazing slugfest, Cage Rage veteran Marius Zaromskis bested DEEP welterweight champion Seichi Ikemoto. The two traded back and forth, swinging without caution and hurting one another in the process. Zaromskis started to land the more effective strikes as he mixed in kicks and knees into his arsenal. With only seconds left in the fight, Zaromskis trounced Ikemoto with a vicious flurry of strikes that likely would have finished him had it not been for the bell. Zaromskis earned the unanimous decision and a spot in the next round of the tournament.

In the first DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix bout, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Andre Galvao looked impressive in submitting WEC veteran John Alessio. Both fighters started the fight out tentative, neither wanting to make a mistake, but Galavo got the fight to the ground and immediately had Alessio’s back. After working for the choke, Galvao switched to an armbar. After a bit of a struggle, he got Alessio to tap at 7:34 of the opening round.

In the final DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix first round bout, Daiki “DJ Taiki” Hata won a comfortable decision over crowd favorite Hideo Tokoro. Both fighters were tentative to start, but as the bout wore on, Hata began to find his range on the feet. Once they hit the ground, Hata would be the aggressor with ground and pound, while Tokoro worked for submissions. The final round was much of the same with the exception of Hata landing cleaner, more effective shots. Hata would go on to win a unanimous decision and move on to the second round of the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix.

Fighting for the third time in three weeks, American Top Team product Jeff Monson submitted touted Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov. Monson quickly shot for a takedown and after a reversal found himself on top of Kharitonov, moving into north-south position and securing a choke that forced Kharitonov to tap at 1:42 of the first round.

In a back and forth affair, Brazilian striker Murilo “Ninja” Rua took on late replacement Riki Fukuda. The two traded shots throughout the fight with both fighters getting their licks in. With the fight fairly even in the final round, Fukuda launched a flurry that connected in the final minute of the fight, clearly hurting Rua and swaying the fight into his favor. When the judge’s scorecards were read, Fukuda walked away with a unanimous decision victory.

After a long layoff, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro returned to action against Olympic wrestling medalist Katsuhiko Nagata. It didn’t take long for the fight to hit the ground and after a quick reversal, Shaolin ended up on top. From that point on, Shaolin used his overwhelming grappling and easily moved from position to position. He finally settled on side mount, where he rained a couple of big knees that opened a nasty cut on Nagata’s head that forced an immediate stoppage of the fight at 7:58 of the opening round.

Karate stylist Andrews Nakahara stopped Japanese mixed martial arts veteran Shungo Oyama. After a brief feeling out period, Oyama lunged in for a leg lock, but missed and was met with a right hand that dazed him, giving Nakahara the opening to finish the fight with strikes at the two minute mark.

In the opening fight of the night, Katsuyori Shibata staged a comeback to steal a decision away from Ikuhisa Minowa. Minowa controlled the fight on the ground up until the final three minutes, when a stand-up reenergized Shibata. Shibata then took over, landing an array of strikes that had Minowa reeling and finished the fight with a highlight suplex. When it was all said and done, Shibata earned a unanimous decision victory.

-Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Shinya Aoki by KO at 0:27, R1
-Jason High def. Yuya Shirai by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:59, R1
-Marius Zaromskis def. Seichi Ikemoto by Unaimous Decision, R2
-Andre Galvao def. John Alessio by Submission (Armbar) at 7:34, R1
-Daiki “DJ Taiki” Hata def. Hideo Tokoro by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Jeff Monson def. Sergei Kharitonov by Submission (North-South Choke) at 1:42, R1
-Riki Fukuda def. Murilo “Ninja” Rua by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro def. Katsuhiko Nagata by TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 7:58, R1
-Andrews Nakahra def. Shungo Oyama by TKO at 2:00, R1
-Katsuyori Shibata def. Ikuhisa Minowa by Unanimous Decision, R2