Dream 16: Taro Irei | Sherdog.com
NAGOYA, Japan -- With Dream’s final event of the 2010 calendar year in the books, Japan’s premier mixed martial arts promotion now sets its sights on preparing for “Dynamite,” the upcoming New Year’s Eve mega show. Dream Event Producer Keiichi Sasahara indicated that winners from Dream 16 on Saturday at Nippon Gaishi Hall likely sealed their places at the Dec. 31 event.
Takaya-Omigawa-Fernandes Plot Thickens
Of particular note heading towards New Year’s Eve will be the ongoing story between featherweight contenders Hiroyuki Takaya and Michihiro Omigawa and incumbent champion Bibiano Fernandes. After a scintillating knockout of former Dream lightweight titleholder Joachim Hansen in Dream 15 and an equally charged TKO of former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Chase Beebe at Dream 16, Takaya finds himself on track for a rematch against Fernandes. The fight was originally planned for Dream 16, but Beebe replaced Fernandes at the last minute. Dream officials claimed the champion declined the fight for “family reasons.”
Takaya admitted he was surprised his bout with Beebe unfolded the way that it did, but he seemed content with the result considering his impending title shot. Takaya reiterated his belief that he was the “center of the featherweight world,” despite Omigawa staking that claim during the event.
With Fernandes’ still uncertain, a rematch between Takaya and Omigawa is brewing. As the last man to defeat the “Streetfight Bancho” by TKO -- he did so at “Dynamite” in 2009 – Omigawa, who dislocated Cole Escovedo’s right arm with a straight armbar at Dream 16, seemed to take exception to Takaya’s title contender status.
“I will say it again,” Omigawa said. “I am the center of the featherweight division, and we only need one center.”
Aoki Eyes Oct. 23 Deep Event
The fight went according to plan for Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, who dominated Marcus Aurelio en route to a unanimous decision in a non-title matchup.
“I wanted to submit him, but I think I was ‘safe driving,’” said Aoki, one of several fighters decrying wrestling in MMA in the past. “I wanted to win, but maybe it was slightly on the boring side. However, I think I was still able to show my strength to the fans.”
However, Aoki took a somewhat cynical view of the victory and referred partly to the reaction he received after dispatching Vitor Ribeiro at Dream 10.
“It’s difficult,” Aoki said. “If I decided to strike against a grappler, I’d have been called boring, and even if I overwhelmed him with grappling, I’d have been called boring. I suppose that, in the end, that’s just how things go.”
A father to be, Aoki expects his first child in March or April. He has no plans for New Year’s Eve yet, as more immediate concerns lay ahead in October.
“There’s a significance for me to fight in Deep’s 10th anniversary [show on Oct. 23],” Aoki said, “so I want to get home and train as soon as possible.”
Kickboxing, Pro Wrestling Next for Ishii?
Satoshi Ishii, the 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist and neophyte mixed martial artist, named Pride Fighting Championships veteran Naoya Ogawa as the person he wants to fight next in Japan. However, it appears that “fighting,” in this instance, means that Ishii will face Ogawa in professional wrestling. Ogawa currently wrestles in Antonio Inoki’s Inoki Genome Federation promotion, which has extended an offer to Ishii to wrestle at its Dec. 3 event.
It gets wilder, however, as Ishii also seems to be eying K-1.
“I wanted to do better in the striking, but it was a challenge for me,” Ishii said after his decision victory over Ikuhisa Minowa at Dream 16. “In order for me to grow, I want to fight in kickboxing, like K-1.”
Despite Ishii’s aspirations, Sasahara clearly has his own hopes and plans for the judoka.
“The most important thing for Ishii is to fight a lot,” said Sasahara, who wants Ishii to compete at “Dynamite” on Dec. 31. “I will talk to him again when the time is right, and I hope that he’ll fight again in a Japanese promotion. I think it’s best for him to fight in Japan. I’m sure Ishii has his own vision and plans, but I want to talk to him about Dynamite.”
Given World Victory Road President Toru Mukai’s statements regarding plans to ease Ishii’s contractual commitments to Sengoku Raiden Championship, future appearances from the judoka at Dream events and Dynamite seem much more likely. However, Ishii harbors hopes to compete abroad and claims to grow nervous at the prospect of fighting in Japan. Ishii also revealed that he has entertained advances from promotions outside of Japan that have offered him bouts at light heavyweight.
“He’s a heavyweight, but he’s very agile on the ground,” Sasahara said. “I don’t think there’s anybody else that’s that quick. I guess he could be even more agile than Fedor [Emelianenko]. Of course, he has a lot to learn, but I think what he needs to do first is improve his ground techniques.”
Sakuraba Plans to Keep Fighting
Though Kazushi Sakuraba admitted to regret over the outcome of their fight, he praised Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s decisiveness and ability as a fighter. Miller submitted Sakuraba with a first-round arm-triangle choke. In his self assessment, however, Sakuraba expressed a dissatisfaction that fuels to remain active in the sport, this despite earlier claims that he would quit if left “heartbroken” by a fight.
“With this regret, I still want to fight, even tomorrow,” said Sakuraba, who envisions himself competing for five to 10 more years. “I’d even fight in Dynamite if it was tomorrow.”
The 41-year-old has lost four of his last six bouts, including two in a row. His submission defeat to Miller was his first since his professional debut against Kimo Leopoldo in July 1996.
Mousasi Aims for Titles in Strikeforce, at Heavyweight
With the Dream light heavyweight title now around his waist, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi aims to not only recapture the belt Muhammed Lawal took from him in April but also to make a run at heavyweight.
“I think in two or three years, I want to go to heavyweight and fight for two years, and I think at 30, I want to stop fighting,” Mousasi said. “If I win the heavyweight belt, I think I’ll have achieved all my goals. Of course, I want to prove myself in the U.S., so if I get an opportunity to fight in Strikeforce for the light heavyweight belt, I’ll do my best to win that belt, too.”
Sasahara acknowledged the dearth of available talent at light heavyweight, which leaves noticeable voids in who could step in to challenge Mousasi next.
“I don’t think I can find anyone to challenge Mousasi,” Sasahara said. “If anyone wants to cut from heavyweight, that’s one possibility, but Mousasi at 93 kilos is almost impossible to defeat. I hope there will be a courageous fighter that steps forward to challenge him, but I think that’ll be next year.”