Half of Dream 16 Card Revealed

By Tony Loiseleur Sep 5, 2010
TOKYO -- Dream broke its silence Sunday afternoon to officially announce five bouts for the Sept. 25 Dream 16 card, taking place at the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya.

The card will feature Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki taking on Marcus Aurelio in a non-title bout, as well as two 143-pound bouts pitting former Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen against Hideo Tokoro and 2000 Sydney games freestyle wrestling participant Kazuyuki Miyata versus former Shooto 143-pound champion "Lion Takeshi" Inoue.

The heavyweight title bout pitting Tatsuya Mizuno against former Dream middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi was also reconfirmed at Sunday's presser. Later Dream confirmed on its YouTube channel a matchup between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Kazushi Sakuraba.

“I thought my fight would be announced a little earlier,” joked Aoki, prompting a chuckle from Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara, who was seated next to him. “It's only just three weeks until the fight. I know the other fighters might be a little bothered by that, but we will do our best.”

Lightweight champ Aoki was eager to face Aurelio, who holds an arm-triangle submission victory over former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi in 2006.

“When I see Marcus Aurelio, I see him through the image of Gomi. While Gomi's doing his best fighting in the states now, my hope is to do well in Japan and not lose [to Aurelio]. I’m on the same track as Gomi, I think. I'd like to have an opportunity to fight Gomi in the future,” said Aoki, who later asserted that though he isn’t aiming for Gomi per se, he has expected to cross paths with the former Pride champ someday.

Aoki praised Aurelio’s technical proficiency in grappling but shied away from explaining the particulars of his appreciation, as he doubted anyone would be able to understand his meticulous technical analysis.

Despite Aurelio already being slated for the Sept. 10 Shine Fights lightweight tournament, Sasahara said he didn’t have a problem with the Brazilian participating in Dream just two weeks later.

“I think it'll be fine. I don't know much about Shine, but what I do know is that he's OK with it," said Sasahara.

Former Shooto champ “Lion Takeshi” was excited to announce his big-show debut in Dream. Having spent seven years in Shooto, Inoue said that because he met his goal of becoming Shooto champion twice, it was time for him to move on. Inoue lost the title to Hatsu Hioki in May 2010’s “Way of Shooto 3” -- a bout that he believed, win or lose, would be his last in Shooto.

“It all depends on takedowns,” said Lion of his Dream 16 opponent, Miyata. “I can stand up from being taken down. I’m good at it, but there’s a good chance I won’t be able to defend against his takedowns. I want to use my knees to defend and try to keep it standing. When I get put on the ground, it’s going to be a boring fight.”

Though Miyata is next, Inoue said he had his sights on fellow Shooto veteran Hiroyuki Takaya for a future bout.

“He’s very strong. I like his style and he’s my favorite fighter in Dream,” said Inoue.

Exuding confidence, Miyata staunchly asserted, “I don't think I can lose in this weight class. I will win this next fight.”

The former Olympian did compliment Inoue’s Shooto performances.

“I've seen him fight in Shooto a few times,” Miyata said. “He seems to lose at the beginning of his fights, but he usually pulls through and wins in the end. He has a great heart. I have to be careful.”

Tokoro, who will be facing former Dream lightweight champ Hansen, was charmingly modest and shy as usual, praising his opponent’s career and fearsome fighting style.

“I don’t know that a fighter like myself has the right to face someone like Hansen. He’s got a good career, can do everything and is a very dangerous fighter. Hopefully the fight will be exciting,” said the soft-spoken Tokoro.

“When I learned that I was matched against Hansen, people around me were like, ‘What?’ While they’ve been worrying for me, I’ve been doing my best to motivate myself for the fight,” said Tokoro, eliciting chuckles.

Sasahara reiterated that another four to five bouts would be announced in the near future, rounding out the card at nine or 10 fights total. According to Sasahara, the delay is due to ongoing negotiations with various candidates. Depending on how negotiations proceed, Sasahara claimed that there may be a possibility that Shooto and Zuffa promotional veterans Caol Uno and Hiroyuki Takaya -- already pictured on Dream 16’s poster -- may not appear in Dream 16, despite his hopes that they participate.

Further, it appears as if the long-rumored participation of SRC featherweight champion Marlon Sandro in Dream 16 -- as well as the participation of other SRC representatives -- has stalled.

“Some fighters haven't been worked out for the next card yet, like Sandro, [Michihiro] Omigawa and Joe Warren,” said Sasahara. “We are continually in talks, and we wanted to announce a few more fights today, but we couldn't finalize them. As for the SRC fighters, we were in talks, but we couldn't finalize anything.”

When asked for specifics as to why it has taken Dream so long to announce their upcoming bouts, Sasahara paused momentarily before saying with a chuckle, “I’ll explain it later. We’ve had some issues. I’d like to explain them after the event. Once the fights will be announced though, you’ll see that they’re great fights, and people will understand.”

Similar setbacks and other troubles have since become a theme for an embattled Dream and parent company FEG in the headlines of late.

“I don’t know why, but there’s a lot of negative information these days, and I want brighten up the combat sports world,” Aoki commented. “At today’s press conference, there were some questions that were asked that should have been handled online. We as fighters grow tired of some of these questions. I just want to do my best, fight well and brighten things with my fight in Nagoya.”

Aoki’s comments were in regard to questions focusing on recent claims by Gary Goodridge and Dream featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandes that they had gone unpaid for their bouts against Gegard Mousasi and Joachim Hansen, respectively.

Though deferring to the absent FEG president Sadaharu Tanikawa, Sasahara stated, “We paid the money. I said on Twitter that I would explain at the next press conference, and though I don’t want to seem like I’m escaping from a responsibility to explain, as for this issue, it should really be explained by Mr. Tanikawa. We of course believe that it is right and natural that we pay our fighters, and as for those two, we have paid them. We paid late, but we did pay them in the end. We apologize to the fans and the fighters for the frustration.”

Finally, regarding news of Zuffa’s latest attempts to expand in the Asia region -- this time under the guidance of former NBA Asia vice president Mark Fischer -- Sasahara again diverted the question to Tanikawa.

“We'd like to expand into Asia much more once the details are fixed,” Sasahara said, “but we will announce that at a later date.”
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