All Dream 16 Fighters Hit Weight; Mayhem Touts Magic

By Tony Loiseleur Sep 24, 2010
NAGOYA, Japan -- All fighters on Friday made weight for Dream 16, set to take place on Saturday at the Nihon Gaishi Hall. A middleweight attraction between two fan favorites in Strikeforce veteran Jason Miller and Kazushi Sakuraba will be prominently featured in the promotion’s first primetime effort on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

In typical “Mayhem” fashion, Miller goofed around at the public press conference by belting out mangled Japanese words and phrases in response to fan questions. In not so many Japanese words, Miller asserted that he had magic in his hands and arms, indicating a confidence in his submission prowess and striking.

In somewhat of a break from the persona, however, Miller respectfully gave the legendary Japanese mixed martial artist his due, commenting to local media about how Sakuraba’s bouts against the Gracie family in the early 2000s were a personal revelation of the paradigmatic shifts in store for the sport’s future. Despite his respect for the Japanese veteran’s creativity and “magic,” Miller asserted he has no qualms with beating Sakuraba, jokingly likening the fight with the storied vet to beating up his own father.

Returning to Japan for the first time since his November 2006 rematch with then Pride Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder Takanori Gomi, Marcus Aurelio finds himself in a similar situation to when he first submitted “The Fireball Kid.” Facing Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki in a non-title bout, Aurelio revealed that should he defeat the “Tobikan Judan,” he has one more fight on his Dream contract -- likely a rematch for the title. Though initially disappointed that the bout was a non-title affair, Aurelio claimed to be motivated to win for an eventual shot at the belt. He promised not to “overlook Aoki” like the champion’s previous challenger, Tatsuya Kawajiri.

Spurred on by losses in his last three of four fights -- two of which came in Dream -- former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Chase Beebe returns to Japan seeking his first victory in the promotion. Set to face the heavy-hitting “Streetfight Bancho,” Hiroyuki Takaya, Beebe discussed shouldering the burden of having to win and impressing the local audience enough to earn a trip back to Japan. Beebe did not elaborate as to how he planned to meet both goals, instead generally claiming a preparedness to “be ready for the fight however and wherever it goes.”

Likewise, former WEC and Tachi Palace Fights featherweight champion Cole Escovedo expressed that he did not have a particular game plan for his opponent, Sengoku and UFC veteran Michihiro Omigawa, having taken the fight on a week’s notice. Regardless, Escovedo showed confidence, declaring “the fight’s gonna be over in the first round, one way or the other. Someone’s going to get knocked out or something’s gonna break.”

Their respective opponents, Takaya and Omigawa, were similarly brief and vague as to how they planned to dispatch their American foes. Omigawa, in particular, commented that he saw himself executing a “perfect fight” en route to a victory.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect fight,” Escovedo said. “I don’t care what you say.”

On Thursday’s media day, Takaya acknowledged that since he was being considered for a featherweight title shot on New Year’s Eve, his bout with Beebe was one he could not afford to lose. This elicited a warning from Beebe, who said, “I’m hearing [Takaya is] looking past me for the championship title. I’m here to say that I’m no fighter to look past. It’ll be a great fight, no matter what. It’s going to be fast.”

Also at a loss for a game plan was Tatsuya Mizuno, who faces former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and one-time Dream middleweight kingpin Gegard Mousasi for the distinction of becoming Dream’s first 205-pound titleholder. At the time of Thursday’s general media interviews, Mizuno was still pondering ways to defeat Mousasi but admitted that even he himself was not confident that a win was certain.

However, Mizuno deftly used his underdog status to connect with the Nagoya crowd, to which he petitioned, “I know I’m the underdog, but there’s an opportunity for me to win. The opportunity is not zero, and I’ve trained really hard to realize it. The only thing I’m missing now, however, is your support, so please cheer for me tomorrow.”

Mousasi said he had been continuing to work on his wrestling skills, as well as training stand-up in Holland with K-1 veteran Tyrone Spong. Should he win the title, Mousasi asserted he would like to fight again in Strikeforce to hopefully pick up another championship and thus hold belts on both sides of the Pacific.

Elsewhere, Dream also unveiled a heavyweight bout between James Thompson and Yusuke Kawaguchi. According to the Deep “Megaton” champion, Kawaguchi agreed to fight Thompson only four hours before Friday’s public presser. Kawaguchi steps in as a late replacement opponent for Thompson, who was originally slated to face Ikuhisa Minowa before the professional wrestler/MMA giant slayer was paired up with 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii.

Dream 16
Saturday, Sept. 25
Nihon Gaishi Hall
Nagoya, Japan

Dream Light Heavyweight Championship
Gegard Mousasi (93 kilograms/205 pounds) vs. Tatsuya Mizuno (92.5/203.9)

Kazushi Sakuraba (83/183) vs. Jason Miller (84/185.1)
Shinya Aoki (69.7/153.7) vs. Marcus Aurelio (69.7/153.7)
Ikuhisa Minowa (88/194) vs. Satoshi Ishii (107/235.9)
Hiroyuki Takaya (64/141.1) vs. Chase Beebe (64/141.1)
Michihiro Omigawa (65/143.3) vs. Cole Escovedo (65/143.3)
Hideo Tokoro (63/138.9) vs. Joachim Hansen (63/138.9)
Kazuyuki Miyata (65/143.3) vs. Takeshi Inoue (65/143.3)
Mitsuhiro Ishida (65/143.3) vs. Akiyo Nishiura (64.8/143.3)
Yusuke Kawaguchi (115/253.5) vs. James Thompson (132/291)
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