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Dream: Fight for Japan Parting Shots

By on May 30, 2011

It had been eight long months since our last real Dream event before the aptly-titled “Fight for Japan” show went off successfully this past weekend. Amid the hoopla surrounding UFC 130, Dream was lost in the shuffle to a certain extent, but the event will air soon on HDNet for those who crave a little extra MMA action . Here are my thoughts on Dream’s 2011 debut.

Disclaimer: This article obviously contains spoilers. If you are trying to avoid results before the event airs in your area or you can find videos online, you probably should sit this one out. Also, perusing MMA sites may not be the best idea, either. Just sayin’.

Aoki continues return to form

After shuffling through possible opponents that included UFC veterans Shane Nelson and Antonio McKee, Shinya Aoki finally got in the ring last weekend with another UFC vet, Rich Clementi. To say that the results weren’t so good for Rich would be a bit of an understatement. Some thoughts on Aoki-Clementi:

–Aoki continues to look a lot better since last year’s one-sided loss to Gil Melendez, and more recently, the debacle on New Year’s Eve against K-1 fighter Yuichiro Nagashima. With so much going on in the lightweight division, Aoki has really had the chance to move back up to elite status in the eyes of many, and even if they aren’t elite guys, facing fighters such as Lyle Beerbohm and Rich Clementi gives us a good frame of reference for his abilities.

–It’ll be interesting to see how involved Aoki will be in Strikeforce now that Dream seems to be getting back in the swing of things. I’d like to see Aoki fight some more opponents stateside such as Josh Thomson or Justin Wilcox. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Aoki take on Antonio McKee in Dream if they can make it happen, too.

–What a bunch of shit it is to yellow card a guy for inactivity when he has been mounted by his opponent and is just trying to survive. Apparently, the referee of Aoki-Clementi wanted Clementi to take a risk to get out of the position, such as…what, exactly? Flopping to his stomach and giving up a rear naked choke attempt? Doing the same thing and trying to tip Aoki off of him while offering up his arm on a silver platter? To tell a fighter who’s already being pounded on from the mount that he needs to keep the fight exciting by putting himself at even more risk is ridiculous.

Let’s not even get into how shady it looks that while FEG hasn’t been able to pay fighters such as Gegard Mousasi from bouts that happened last year, an American fighter gets penalized 10% of his purse for being mounted and failing to keep the bout fun enough for the fans. How does that not look corrupt. I like the idea of yellow cards, but I haven’t liked the execution, and that goes way back to the Pride days.

Quick Shots

–I’m glad that Masakazu Imanari advanced to the finals of Dream’s bantamweight grand prix. Anyone who’s throwing flying kicks one fight and slapping on leglocks the next is okay in my book. I’m slightly less excited about the fighter he’ll face in the finals, Hideo Tokoro. Tokoro’s first bout was tainted by the fact that he had worn down his opponent, Yoshiro Maeda with a nasty low blow. Whether intentional or not, Maeda wasn’t the same after and ended up not being able to continue not long after he had said he was okay to fight and action had resumed. Meanwhile, Tokoro advanced to the finals by beating an opponent who had returned that night after almost two years away from the sport.

–As someone who’s always enjoyed watching Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen, I’m disappointed that he didn’t fare a little better against Mitsuhiro Ishida. Hansen won by split decision despite being taken down regularly by Ishida, largely on the strength of his strikes off of his back and submission attempts. On the other hand, while seeing a more decisive finish from Hansen would have been nice, it’s always good to see judges in any country rewarding activity from the back over inactive “control” from the fighter on top and takedowns that lead to nothing.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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