'Lion Takeshi' is set to meet a fellow former Shooto champ. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Dream 17 has its first bout, and it's a pairing of former Shooto world champions.
The promotion confirmed the first bout for Dream 17 on Wednesday, formalizing a featherweight clash between popular Japanese MMA veteran Caol Uno and former two-time Shooto 143-pound world champion "Lion" Takeshi Inoue. Dream 17 is scheduled for Sept. 24 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
"This next fight will become an important bout in determining who challenges for the featherweight title," said Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara of the Uno-Inoue pairing.
Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya made the first defense of his title on July 16, earning a split decision over 2000 Sydney Games freestyle wrestling olympian Kazuyuki Miyata.
Both Uno, 36, and Inoue, 31, fell to the aforementioned Miyata in his contendership run. Miyata earned unanimous nods over Inoue and Uno in September and December of last year respectively.
The Yokohama native Inoue has fought twice since his loss to Miyata, taking impressive stoppages of Shooto Pacific Rim champion Taiki Tsuchiya, as well as Deep featherweight championKoichiro Matsumoto in a four-week span in April and May.
Uno, a native of Yokosuka, Kanagawa -- nearby to Inoue's home of Yokohama -- earned his first win as a featherweight this past May, when he bested Inoue's Shooting Gym Yokohama teammate "Wicky" Akiyo Nishiura by unanimous decision.
Sasahara also revealed that the promotion hoped to add Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and MMA icon Kazushi Sakuraba to the bill, but that the three men were not official for the card yet. Sasahara did however tease Aoki's opponent as one that would get hardcore MMA fans attention.
"I wanted to finalize Aoki's opponent for today's press conference, but we're still narrowing things down," Sasahara explained. "We haven't fully completed negotiations, but we've narrowed down the candidates. I believe it'll be a strong foreigner that hardcore MMA fans will be delighted to see."