Dream Reveals Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal Pairings

By Chris Nelson Aug 4, 2011
Having conquered Dream’s all-Japan bantamweight tournament in July, Hideo Tokoro will begin his quest for the promotion’s vacant 134-pound title in September when he meets WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos at Dream 17.

Part of Dream’s eight-man bantamweight world grand prix, the matchup was announced by officials from the Japanese promotion Friday at a press conference in Tokyo. The bout will go down Sept. 24 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, along with the title tourney’s three other quarterfinal pairings.

Tokoro (Pictured; file photo) finds himself on the comeback trail following a rough ride through the Dream featherweight division. The 33-year-old “Fighting Freeter” made his bantamweight debut in May, notching victories over Yoshiro Maeda and Atsushi Yamamoto in a single evening before claiming the Japan GP crown last month.

Banuelos, 31, compiled a 9-5 WEC record, but was released by Zuffa in February after dropping a decision to Miguel Torres in his UFC debut.

The man Tokoro topped in July, former Deep bantamweight champ Masakazu Imanari, will square off against ex-King of the Cage titlist Abel Cullum, while deposed Dream featherweight king Bibiano Fernandes will move down the scale to rematch Takafumi Otsuka.

Rounding out the opening round is a clash of Dream newcomers, as Nova Uniao product Rodolfo Marques tangles with unbeaten, Chicago-based Dagestani Yusup Saadulaev.

Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.

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