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K-1 and Dream End 2010 Memorably

By on December 31, 2010

K-1 and Dream’s “Dynamite!” event may have surpassed Sengoku’s in every respect, though: in terms of spectacle, sport, and ridiculous subtitle (Dynamite’s was “Power of Courage 2010”, while Sengoku’s was “Soul of Fight”). K-1 and Dream certainly trumped Sengoku in terms of star power, even some of the biggest MMA names were busy fighting in kickboxing matches or hybrid bouts with strange rules.

The main event was the Dream Featherweight Championship bout between Bibiano Fernandes and Hiroyuki Takaya. In Sengoku’s year-end event, their featherweight champ lost to a Japanese challenger, and the same happened at “Dynamite!”, as Takaya won a unanimous decision in a fight that won’t be up for “Fight of the Year” by any means, but still won him the title he coveted.

Takaya’s biggest success was stopping the takedown attempts of Fernandes, who worked doggedly to take (and keep) Takaya down throughout all three rounds. When he did finally put Takaya on his back, it would never stay that way for long, as Takaya proved to be a hard opponent to hold down. Meanwhile, Takaya controlled the action mainly through leg kicks, as little else scored for either man in the first two rounds.

Finally, in the third round Fernandes resorted to pulling guard to keep the action on the mat, though Takaya was able to ride out the round while landing some punches from the top to seal the victory. The loss is Fernandes’ first since dropping a decision to “Kid” Yamamoto in September of 2007.

Meanwhile, in a fight that was billed much lower on the card, but held a lot of interest for fight fans worldwide, Alistair Overeem outclassed Todd Duffee in their bout. Short notice or not, Duffee came to fight and was aggressive from the outset, swinging somewhat wildly but failing to connect after the opening bell. Overeem quickly countered with a hard punch and knees to the midsection that dropped Duffee’s guard, allowing Overeem to floor Duffee with a short left hook. The end came just nineteen seconds into the first round, and you have to feel bad for Duffee, who clearly was hoping to impress either Strikeforce, the UFC or both with a good performance against the new Dream interim heavyweight champion (and recent K-1 Grand Prix champion).

Another chapter in the ever-lengthening career of Kazushi Sakuraba went in the books as well, though it apparently still won’t be the last. Sakuraba’s bout with Marius Zaromskis ended strangely, though what else could one expect in a title bout between men who had lost a combined five fights in a row? The good news was that one of them would almost assuredly finally get a win, and to the surprise of few, it was Zaromskis who got back on track.

So what happened? Well, Sakuraba’s ear apparently started to, well, come off. Let’s put it this way: any fight that ends with the loser saying “Sorry, but my ear kind of came off, dammit” probably didn’t end as expected. In any case, Sakuraba says he thinks he’s “still improving” and therefore plans to continue fighting.

Shinya Aoki’s fight wasn’t an MMA bout, it wasn’t a kickboxing match, but it was a devastating loss for the Japanese standout, who was knocked out by Yuichiro Nagashima just four seconds into the “MMA round” of their hybrid bout. It was actually a humorous end to the spectacle, because Aoki did everything he could to avoid actually striking with Nagashima during the K-1 rules portion of the bout. Aoki went for takedowns, was warned by the referee, then decided to throw dropkicks and spinning kicks that landed him on his butt, where he’d be safe from counter attacks and be able to kill time off of the clock for the three-minute first round.

After all those tricks, Aoki must have thought he was home free when the MMA-rules round began. However, he clowned around for the entire K-1 round just to be knocked out with a single strike in the MMA round, as a perfectly timed knee from Nagashima vacated Aoki from his senses as the outspoken Japanese fighter was shooting for a takedown. I’m not sure if that’s truly ironic or just “Alanis Morissette ironic”, but I do know that it was a pretty amusing turn of events.

Josh Thomson, like so many North American fighters before him, decided to take a New Year’s Eve bout on three weeks notice and paid the price, as he lost a unanimous decision to Tatsuya Kawajiri. Whether he was mounting Thomson and raining down blows, threatening with an arm-triangle or just muscling him around, Kawajiri controlled nearly the entire bout. Thomson’s one opportunity came when he took Kawajiri’s back to conclude the second stanza, but time ran out before he could do anything with it.

Jason High extended his win streak to three fights with a split decision victory over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Sakurai stole the fight on Akira Shoji’s card by outstriking High and landing a right hand that rocked the American fighter in the final round, but everyone else awarded the fight to High for controlling Sakurai with his wrestling and landing shots from the top position when possible.

In a K-1 rules bout, Gegard Mousasi gave a good accounting of himself with a unanimous decision victory over Kyotaro Fujimoto, in which Mousasi scored the only knockdown of the fight with a left hook that sent Fujimoto to the mat in the second round. Mousasi has been pretty successful in kickboxing matches, especially on New Year’s Eve in Japan, as he scored a first round knockout against K-1 veteran Musashi two years ago, as well. Shooto’s Akiyo Nishiura was not so fortunate, as he battled to a majority draw with K-1 Max fighter Tetsuya Yamato.

Other notable winners were Sergei Kharitonov over Tatsuya Mizuno by first-round TKO and Hideo Tokoro by third-round submission over Kazuhisa Watanabe. Caol Uno (in his featherweight debut) and Ikuhisa Minowa were not so fortunate, dropping their bouts to Kazuyuki Miyata and Hiroshi Izumi, respectively.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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