YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Bibiano Fernandes fended off Joachim Hansen on Monday to retain his Dream featherweight title in the main event of Dream 13.
Fernandes was successful in exploiting the Norwegian's takedown defense -- arguably Hansen's chief liability throughout his otherwise sterling MMA career. This was compounded by a slow start from “Hellboy” in the first half of the opening period, allowing for the champion to chop away with snapping low kicks and winging punches. One particularly vicious overhand right from Fernandes stumbled the iron-jawed Hansen in the first period.
Hansen, a former Dream lightweight champion, transformed into his typically aggressive self in the latter half of the first frame. Fernandes stayed ahead of the challenger, though, with his persistent takedowns.
While Hansen landed lunging knees to the body and a vicious right uppercut-left straight in the second round, Fernandes' ease in taking Hansen down would not be denied. From the bottom, Hansen prevented Fernandes from passing his guard and scored with up-kicks before popping back to his feet, but Fernandes' many successful takedowns convinced judges Matt Hume and Gen Isono to give him the split decision victory. Only judge Yasushi Miyake voted for Hansen.
“I think I was able to do what I expected,” Fernandes said. “I didn't have the belt for long, but it's still around my waist. Joachim is an excellent fighter, and it was a tough match. There were a lot of things I learned from him in this fight. I was originally a champion coming from jiu-jitsu, but now I'm a champion in MMA. Thank you, Joachim.”
Rather than shoot an immediate takedown, Josh Barnett kept his fight against Siala “Mighty Mo” Siliga on the feet, likely to test out his newly acquired savate skills. This almost lead to an unfortunate ending, as both men traded kicks -- Siliga a low kick and Barnett an unintentional kick to the groin. After approximately 15 tense minutes in which Dream officials powwowed at the center of the ring while Mo recovered, the bout finally continued with Barnett earning a yellow card.
Barnett prevailed soon after, however. He avoided Siliga’s big punches to get a takedown and tapped him with a chicken wing arm-lock at 4:41 of the first.
“If you look at his record, he's never been on his back in any MMA fight, ever,” Barnett said. “I've trained with him, and I've put him on his back before, but it's not easy. He's got a lot of talent. He's not just a kickboxer.”
In the spirit of fairness, Barnett allowed Mo to give him a return shot to the groin after the bout.
Former EliteXC lightweight champion Karl James Noons outpointed Andre "Dida" Amado in a clinical affair. Noons, a pro boxer, turned the 15-minute bout into a boxing match in which he had a clear advantage. Noons walked Amado down, targeting the body with long jabs from distance and hard digging hooks when in close. Amado landed some of his unruly punches and snapping low kicks, but Noons outstripped him with volume punching. Though lacking for variety, Noons was the clear winner according to judges Hume, Isono and Hikaru Adachi.
UFC veteran Ryo Chonan took a unanimous decision over karate convert Andrews Nakahara. The “Piranha” controlled most of the first period from top position. He transitioned from guard to a top crucifix and grinded Nakahara with punches. It wasn't much different on the feet, with a confident Chonan landing punches until the final minutes of the second round, when Nakahara rallied to put forth a go-for-broke effort in the pocket. A stumbling and overwhelmed Chonan dragged Nakahara to the mat to ride out the fight on top.
Cole Escovedo, the first WEC featherweight champion, crushed fellow WEC veteran Yoshiro Maeda. Though the southpaw Maeda played the aggressor early and gave Escovedo trouble with his windmilling left hand, Escovedo remained collected until delivering a tripping low kick followed by a left high kick to the jaw. Maeda careened backward and ate one more punch before referee Samio Kimura jumped in for the save at 2:29 of the first.
Rising lightweight star and Deep lightweight champion Katsunori Kikuno leveled UFC veteran and Cage Force lightweight champion Kuniyoshi Hironaka. The typically counter-fighting Kikuno surprised by pursuing from the opening bell while Hironaka attempted trip takedowns from the clinch. Kikuno then planted his patented crescent kick into Hironaka's ribs and followed with left and right hooks to his jaw while he was stunned. Hironaka fell to the mat, and Kikuno pursued with two hammerfists before referee Kenichi Serizawa pulled him off at the 1:26 mark of the first round.
Super Hulk champion Ikuhisa Minowa felled yet another heavyweight in Jimmy Ambriz, putting the larger man away with a toehold after Ambriz expelled his energy rag-dolling the Japanese pro wrestler in the opening 10-minute period. Official time was 2:42 of round two.