Dream 8 Breakdown


By Tim Leidecker Apr 3, 2009
What does the future hold for Japanese mixed martial arts? Once the Promised Land for the world’s greatest fighters, Nippon shows have mutated into special interest events for hardcore fans. The ratings fallout from Fighting and Entertainment Group’s last effort, the opening round of the Dream featherweight tournament, destroyed any remaining illusions that fighting was still the age- and gender-transcending cultural phenomenon it was from 2003 to 2005.

The lack of a dominant domestic superstar for the new generation of fans to follow could be to blame. With Kazushi Sakuraba and Hidehiko Yoshida on their last legs, Takanori Gomi struggling to remain relevant and Satoshi Ishii getting carried away with overambition and/or poor advice from his management, FEG brass hopes that flamboyant grappler Shinya Aoki will be able to carry the torch that Antoni Inoki, Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada lit in the past three decades.

Even though eccentric Deep boss Shigeru Saeki has lobbied hard to have the whole Dream promotion built around the spandex-wearing Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom, Aoki has come up short when trying to deliver the goods in the ring. During the lightweight tournament last year, he struggled to make it out of the first round against Gesias Cavalcante and was eventually knocked out by Joachim Hansen in the final.

With Dream 8 and the welterweight grand prix, FEG takes another shot with Aoki.
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