'Mach'-Chonan Rematch, Bantamweight Finals On for Dec. 31 Dream

By Mike Whitman Nov 19, 2011
Hayato Sakurai will meet Ryo Chonan in a Dec. 31 welterweight tilt. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson



Three new contests have been added to Dream's year-end show, promotion officials announced Friday.

Japanese welterweight staples Hayato Sakurai and Ryo Chonan will clash at the Dec. 31 event, which will also showcase the semifinal and final rounds of the organization's ongoing bantamweight grand prix.

WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos will square off with leg lock specialist Masakazu Imanari, and former Dream belt holder Bibiano Fernandes will meet Nova Uniao standout Rodolfo Marques Diniz. The victors in each bout will then meet later that night to decide the tournament champion.

Going down New Year's Eve from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, the event will also feature a featherweight title tilt pitting Hiroyuki Takaya against Takeshi Inoue. The show is expected to air on HDNet, though it is unknown if it will be broadcast live or via tape delay.

Sakurai and Chonan have met once before, locking horns at Deep 12th Impact in 2003. Chonan was declared the victor in that encounter, emerging with a third-round technical knockout via doctor's stoppage.

Sakurai looks to avoid his fifth consecutive defeat following a stretch of excellence in which he won eight of nine contests. A former Shooto titlist, “Mach” has also competed for belts in both the UFC and Pride Fighting Championships. Most recently, Sakurai was edged by Jason High on New Year's Eve 2010, falling to the American by split decision.

Chonan has been perfect in 2011 thus far, earning June and October wins in Deep competition. Like Sakurai, “Piranha” is also a UFC and Pride veteran, earning notable wins over Carlos Newton, Anderson Silva and Joey Villasenor during his time with the defunct Japanese promotion.

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