Dream vs. Sengoku on New Year’s Eve Made Official

By Tony Loiseleur Nov 25, 2009
TOKYO -- World Victory Road’s Sengoku Raiden Championships will contribute fighters to Fighting and Entertainment Group's Dynamite event on New Years Eve at the Super Saitama Arena. FEG president Sadaharu Tanigawa and World Victory Road representative Sumio Inamura confirmed the cooperative effort at a joint press conference on Wednesday at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel.

Beyond planning for five to seven bouts dedicated to the Dream-Sengoku crossover theme on Dynamite's 19-fight bill, no concrete details have been hashed out yet, said FEG's Tanigawa and Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara. Fighters participating in the collaboration, as well as rules and weight classes the fights will follow are currently under negotiation between the two promotions.

Perhaps most importantly for the Japanese audience, one of those bouts will likely pair Beijing Olympics gold medalist Satoshi Ishii's MMA debut against Barcelona Olympics judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida, in what would have been Sengoku's headliner for their apparently now-canceled New Year's Eve effort.

“At first, I thought I was going to fight at Ariake Colosseum on New Year's Eve, so to all the fans and media, I'd like to offer my apologies for announcing so late that I won't be,” said Yoshida.

Curiously, though FEG's Tanigawa insisted that the bout would happen on Dynamite, Yoshida's comments on the bout sounded less committed.

“Am I fighting Ishii? That was something that was decided by Sengoku, actually. Since then, I haven't really heard who it is I'm supposed to be facing, so I don't know. I suggest that you ask the related parties [for confirmation],” said a cryptic Yoshida about the Ishii bout.

Further inquiries made by Sherdog.com to FEG's publicity division, as well as Tanigawa's own comments to Japanese media after the press conference, indicate that FEG is confident the bout will happen as planned on Dynamite. A previously announced K-1 bout between Masato Kobayashi and Andy Souwer will remain as a co-main bout.

As far as the future of Sengoku is concerned, WVR head Inamura's only comments were an insistence that parent company Don Quijote was still involved with the promotion and was devoted to supporting it into 2010. WVR said it already has plans in place to continue promoting in the new year.

Though no other matchups were announced, fighters from both promotions were present to give their thoughts and make appeals for potential opponents at the NYE event. Dream fighters Hideo Tokoro and an Evangelion-theme masked Kazushi Sakuraba -- albeit jokingly -- both campaigned for a bout with fellow Dream fighter Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.

The only cross-promotional challenge seemed to come from welterweights Hayato Sakurai and Akihiro Gono, who hinted that they had an interest in facing each other. In addition, Sengoku lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota called out an absent Dream fighter Eddie Alvarez, asking gathered press, “Wouldn't [fans] want to see me knock him out?”

Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki was likewise asked if he'd like to face a Sengoku lightweight, and in particular, its lightweight champion. Aoki replied that neither he nor his fans knew who the Sengoku lightweight champion was.

“Who's the champion now? Because I don't know,” he said. “Right now, I'm number one. I feel that I'm [at the] top now, and if I fight him, I fight him. I didn't say I wanted to fight him, and no one knows who he is, so if we fight ... well, I'll have to think about it.”

When asked for his reaction to Aoki's comments, a nonplussed Hirota first responded, “Frankly, my feelings are ... annoyance. But fight-wise, I think facing Alvarez would be more exciting. I want to knock him out.”

Hirota then followed up with a mysterious, “[Aoki] seems like a fighter that has very long arms,” when asked for his impressions of the Dream champion.
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