‘Jacare’ Beats Miller; Manhoef Stops Sakuraba

By Stephen Martinez Jun 15, 2008
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- More than 14,000 fans gathered Sunday at Yokohama Arena to see whether Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) would sink or swim against Melvin Manhoef (Pictures) and also to take in the second round of the Dream middleweight grand prix.

Sakuraba had stated prefight that he was worried about the matchup and even joked about not showing up. That sentiment was not without cause. He took a brutal pounding from the Dutch powerhouse, eating a high kick and then ground-and-pound until Yuji Shimada had seen enough at 5:12 in the first stanza.

The bout went on longer than required -- as usual with Sakuraba's fights. He had taken a large number of hammerfists while lying completely flat on his back, doing nothing to defend himself, before the stoppage came.

Manhoef was respectful in victory but looked toward the future.

"I think they could have stopped the fight a few times," he said. "I had knocked him out with a kick and then a punch on the ground before I knocked him out again. He was my hero and still is my hero. He's a legend. If you want to be a legend, you have to beat the legend."

In the prefight package, this was called "The Final Chapter" for Sakuraba. The Japanese fighter did not speak to the audience after the fight and rushed out of the ring holding his arm. He was taken to the hospital, though it is not clear yet whether his arm or his collarbone is injured. Manhoef believed the potential injury was a result of a blocked high kick.

Whether this was a retirement bout for Sakuraba is also unclear at this stage. Although certainly not an ideal way to end a career, retirement would be timely.

Dubbed by Dream as "Crazy MMA" and "The Fighting Circus," Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Jason "Mayhem" Miller delivered excitement on the ground as promised, although the action was mostly one-sided.

If escapes counted for anything, Miller might find himself the victor. He narrowly avoided submission after submission from Jacare, including two heel hooks that were fully locked and rotated. Miller responded true to his character by giving a thumbs up and smiling to the cameras, but he was positionally dominated on the ground and only managed to mount a reasonable offense while on his feet.

With one minute to go in the final round, Miller cost himself a chance at winning by attempting to jump to a guillotine choke against one of the best grapplers in the world. Jacare easily avoided it and closed out the fight in the mount to get the unanimous decision.

Although Jacare put together a fairly dominant win, it was clear that he is a grappler first and foremost and not an all-around MMA fighter yet. His striking looked telegraphed and forced, and every shot from Miller knocked him off balance.

"I could do much better," Jacare said. "Technically and mentally, I have to improve. I was happy that people liked my fight. But like I said, I feel I could improve myself."

Gegard Mousasi (Pictures) out-worked Dong Sik Yoon (Pictures) in the first match of the middleweight tournament, taking advantage of Yoon's bandaged knee. Mousasi delivered inside and outside low kicks to the durable Korean and landed knees at will while Yoon was attempting a standing kimura.

Mousasi danced with the devil at one point. He attempted to kimura the judoka, but Yoon quickly escaped and Mousasi then found himself in danger of tapping to the "Dongbar." Mousasi was lucky on this occasion, escaping after his arm was fully extended just before the end of the first.

In the second Mousasi survived an uppercut to get to Yoon's back and lock in a body triangle. He spent the remainder of the fight playing bongos on Yoon's head.

All three judges saw the fight for Mousasi, who cemented his position as one of the favorites in the tournament. After the fight, Mousasi again said that he really wants to fight Manhoef in the next round.

After a freak cut from a high kick stopped their first bout, Zelg Galesic (Pictures) and Taiei Kin (Pictures) were keen to get a definitive resolution in their rematch. Unfortunately it was not to be, as Kin again suffered another freak injury and Galesic will advance to the next round.

Kin was posting out to defend a takedown from Galesic when the pair fell with all of their weight on the arm, popping it at the elbow at 1:05 in the first. Perhaps no one with a broken arm has ever smiled so much as Kin, who was grinning from ear to ear as Galesic offered him yet another rematch when the tournament is finished.

With the win Galesic joined Melvin Manhoef (Pictures), Jacare and Gegard Mousasi (Pictures) to fill out the middleweight grand prix field for August.

It's hard to say what is happening with Shinya Aoki (Pictures)'s stock in Dream. He went from being main event material in Dream 1 to being relegated to the opening bout of the night for his two most recent fights. Yet in both bouts, he put on stellar performances, showing that he has arguably the slickest submissions to date.

After taking down Olympic silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata (Pictures) with a trip, Aoki moved to mount. He tried for a guillotine and a head-arm triangle, then slipped his shin across the throat of Nagata to secure a gogoplata from mount at the 5:12 mark of the first round. That's right -- a gogoplata from the mount.

The matchups for the next round of the Dream lightweight tournament were determined during the intermission with a random ballot. Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures) didn't get the match he wanted against Caol Uno (Pictures) but instead got Eddie Alvarez (Pictures). Uno was matched with Aoki.

It's hard to know what to expect when Alistair Overeem (Pictures) steps into the ring, but he delivered Sunday. Overeem quickly dispatched of Tae Hyun Lee (Pictures) with a brutal left-right hook combination and finished him off with a knee to the already unconscious ssirium superstar at 36 seconds in the first.

It may have been lucky that the finish came quickly. Overeem had injured his leg in the prefight warm-up and hit the same spot again with his second kick of the fight, sending him hopping back in pain.

As rumored, "The Demolition Man" called out Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic after the fight.

"Alistair Overeem (Pictures) has come to Dream," he said, "and I will be the champion and I want Cro Cop!"

Hideo Tokoro (Pictures) and Darren Uyenoyama (Pictures) put on the finest display of MMA that Dream has seen to date. They fought a back-and-forth match at breakneck speed. The two stood toe to toe multiple times during the fight and, at times, both looked to be on the brink of defeat before turning it around with a comeback. On the ground it was very much the same, with both fighters attempting everything from armbars and omoplatas to toeholds and kneebars without securing a finish.

The knees from Tokoro were the difference between the pair. He dropped Uyenoyama twice with a knee to the head and later to the body. A valiant effort from the inexperienced Uyenoyama wasn't enough, and Tokoro came away with the hard-fought unanimous decision.

Ralek Gracie (Pictures) was switched from a mindboggling grappling match with Cro Cop to a dangerous match with the extremely heavy-handed Alavutdin Gadzhiyev (Pictures) at the last minute. Still, despite Gracie's obvious lack of striking and takedowns, he managed to secure the submission.

Gracie's heritage was clear when he employed the "Royce Gracie (Pictures) Stomp." Still, he got the stocky Russian to the ground after a couple of failed attempts and quickly passed to mount before applying an armbar from a crossface at 3:02 of the first. For some reason Alavutdin contested the stoppage even though he clearly tapped.

Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto entered the ring Sunday wearing a pair of glasses that a grandmother might wear and announced his intentions to move to the featherweight class. He will fight Joseph Benavidez (Pictures) next.

Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures) was also confirmed for Dream 5.
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