Dream's Keiichi Sasahara had many announcements on Wednesday. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
The next step toward Dream's bantamweight world grand prix? A rule change, of course.
With Dream's Japan grand prix in the books and three qualifiers sent forward into the promotion's forthcoming bantamweight championship title tournament, Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara announced Wednesday that starting with the company's next event, the in-ring rules would be slightly different.
Beginning with Dream 17 on Sept. 24 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Dream bouts will be three five-minute rounds, as opposed to a 10-minute opening period followed by a five-minute second round.
Dream title bouts, which were previously contested with a 10-minute opening stanza followed by two five-minute rounds, will now be five five-minute rounds, complying with the standard set forth in the Unified Rules of MMA used under regulation in North America.
"While I believe that a 10-minute first round gives fighters a greater chance at finishing a fight, since we've lately been focusing on the lighter weight classes, for some reason the chances of them getting a finish like a knockout have been smaller," Sasahara explained. "Therefore, I've decided to take a proactive stance to reset things by changing round times. One of the reasons we adopted the five-minute round was to follow the international flow.
"I don't believe that changing all bouts to be three fives will somehow make all fights wonderful, but the change gives us a great chance to reset the fights themselves," he added.
In spite of the changes to the round structure, Dream bouts will be still be evaluated as a whole by judges, as opposed to the 10-point must system.
Sasahara also confirmed that the aforementioned Dream bantamweight world grand prix would begin at Dream 17, with the four quarterfinal bouts of the bracket. By virtue of their placement in the Japan bantamweight tournament, GP champion Hideo Tokoro, former Deep champion Masakazu Imanari and WEC veteran Kenji Osawa have all qualified for the event. Also, Sasahara announced that former Dream featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandes would participate as well.
"We have a total of ten candidates for the world bantamweight grand prix that I'll be progressively sifting through," Sasahara said, noting that the remaining four fighters would all be non-Japanese. "I want fighters from every corner on the globe to participate. I want to go for an IWGP tournament image here."