Light Heavyweight Tournament Scheduled for Dream 15; Mousasi Likely

By Tony Loiseleur May 20, 2010
TOKYO -- The light heavyweight grand prix that was cancelled for Dream 14 has been scheduled as a smaller four-man field at Dream 15 on July 10, FEG president Sadaharu Tanikawa and Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara announced Thursday at a news conference.

The winners of the two tournament bouts at Dream 15 will face each other in September to determine Dream’s light heavyweight champion. Tanikawa and Sasahara also expressed hope for the Dream champion to face the Strikeforce champion in February 2011.

One of the participants in the four-man tournament will likely be former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi, whom Sasahara and Tanikawa called upon during the presser for a brief telephone interview. Apart from stating his plans to begin training in earnest starting next week, Mousasi expressed no preference for a particular opponent in the tournament. However, he made clear his desire to rematch current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal on New Year’s Eve at K-1 Dynamite.

Earlier rumored to take place in Japan’s Kansai region, Dream 15 will in fact take place at the promotion’s usual Kanto region venue, the Saitama Super Arena, and will return to using the ring after Dream 14’s use of the “White Cage.”

Sasahara and Tanikawa announced fighters such as Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, Deep lightweight champion Katsunori Kikuno and Melvin Manhoef as expected participants.

Both officials also mentioned hopes to bring more Strikeforce alumni over to Japan to participate in the event. They did not discuss specific matchups, though they teased Overeem’s potential opponent as being a choice between two heavyweight candidates: one being an experienced heavyweight well-acquainted with fighting in Japan and the other being an established heavyweight talent that has not yet fought in Japan.

Given the event’s official tagline -- “A Fated Rivalry Bout, Realized” -- a potential Aoki-Kawajiri showdown for the lightweight title is expected. Despite Dream lightweight champion Aoki’s recent loss to Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez in April, a title shot for Kawajiri has been in the cards since his victory over Gesias Cavalcante in May 2009 at Dream 9.

Dream officials also announced that the upcoming May 29 Dream 14 event will be the promotion’s only cage event in 2010. The eighth and final bout on the card will pit Ikuhisa Minowa against an opponent to be determined. Questions and suggestions gathered from Internet-based fans pointed to Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, who was recently released from his Zuffa contract. FEG president Tanikawa replied that though the fight may be impossible to make in time for Dream 14, Kimbo would be the most ideal opponent for Dream’s “Super Hulk” champion.
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