Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen (top) meets Mitsuhiro Ishida on May 29. | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
Dream’s “Fight for Japan" has a new pair of featherweight additions, as bouts pitting Joachim Hansen against Mitsuhiro Ishida and Caol Uno against “Wicky” Akiyo Nishiura have been confirmed for the May 29 bill.
The matchups, which will play out at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, were announced by event producer Keiichi Sasahara during a Monday press conference at Deep Official Gym Impact in Tokyo.
Sasahara also revealed that current Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya -- who was upset by Robert Peralta on the April 9 Strikeforce undercard -- will likely return to defend his belt at an as-yet-unannounced summer event. While streaking power-wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata was mentioned as a top contender, Sasahara noted that the outcomes of the just-announced bouts could also determine the first challenger to the “Streetfight Bancho.”
Hansen, 31, has previously challenged for the very same strap. After defeating Shinya Aoki in 2008 to become Dream lightweight champion and losing the title in a 2009 rematch, the hard-hitting Norwegian dropped a split decision to then-champ Bibiano Fernandes in his 2010 featherweight debut. Knocked cold by Takaya in his next outing, Hansen has since strung together back-to-back submission wins over Hideo Tokoro and Sami Aziz.
Despite competing for many of the same promotions in their careers, Hansen has not before crossed paths with Ishida, a 32-year-old stalwart of the Japanese scene. The Shooto-raised “Endless Fighter” became the first man to defeat current Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in 2007, though “El Nino” get revenge in a 2009 rematch. Following that loss, Ishida made the cut to featherweight, where he has notched consecutive decision wins against Nishiura and “DJ.taiki,” Daiki Hata.
Uno, who submitted via rear-naked choke Ishida in May 2008, has not recorded a win since. The two-time UFC lightweight title challenger has fallen on the hardest times of his 14-year career, having gone 0-4-1 in his last five appearances. After being brutally bounced from his latest Octagon stint by Gleison Tibau in March 2010, Uno was rudely welcomed home by Miyata, who won a unanimous decision in their Dec. 31 “Dynamite” meeting.
Eight years Uno’s junior, the colorful “Wicky” has recently migrated from his home base at Shooting Gym Yokohama to train with Urijah Faber’s California-based Team Alpha Male. Nishiura has alternated wins and losses in his last four bouts, topping Tokoro and Takumi Ota, while falling to Ishida and Gustavo Falciroli. The flashy striker was last seen on New Year’s Eve, where he drew with K-1 veteran Tetsuya Yamato in his kickboxing debut.
As announced last week, “Fight for Japan” will play host to the quarterfinals and semifinals of Dream’s 2011 bantamweight grand prix. Also slated for action against opponents to be determined are Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki and Deep lightweight ace Katsunori Kikuno.