Canseco ‘Scared’ by Dream 9 Challenger

May 25, 2009
SHINJUKU, Japan -- Major League Baseball steroid whistleblower Jose Canseco admitted he was intimidated by the task of conquering K-1 giant Hong Man Choi in his professional mixed martial arts debut at a pre-fight press conference for Dream 9 on Monday at Shinjuku Station.

“I’m not gonna lie to you; I’m scared,” Canseco said. “This guy is huge. I’m a 44-year-old rookie and have had a lot of challenges in my baseball career. Hopefully, I can do well.”

Canseco’s sole fighting experience has consisted of celebrity boxing matches. He will enter the ring at Dream 9 without the benefit of a trainer. His opponent in the Super Hulk tournament, the monstrous 7-foot-2 Choi (1-2), can sympathize; he, too, was self-trained for the bout.

All fighters made weight for Dream 9 in front of a reported 5,000 fans. The event will feature the featherweight grand prix quarter-finals, along with the opening round of the Super Hulk tournament.

Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto has been away from the ring for 17 months reportedly due to a knee injury, though some say his absence has been due to a marijuana scandal. He will make his return in a Dream featherweight grand prix quarter-final match against fellow “partaker” and 2006 Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Joe Warren (1-0).

“I think I waited for too long for another match, but I’ve become much stronger than before,” said Yamamoto (17-1, 1 NC). “I’m really strong.”

American Top Team ace Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante (14-2-1, 1 NC) was respectful, even though his feelings were not reciprocated, as opponent Tatsuya Kawajiri left him hanging when he offered a handshake.

“From now until the match is over, I’m focusing all my energy on crushing my opponent,” said Kawajiri (23-5-2). “Until the match is over, I won’t shake his hand or anything.”

Mark Hunt, who tipped the scales at 248.6 pounds against former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko in December 2006, has not returned in that kind of shape. Hunt (5-5) strained the scales at 286 pounds and was carrying plenty of excess baggage for the open weight Super Hulk tournament.

Hunt’s opponent, former Dream middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (24-2-1), has also packed on the pounds. The Armenian checked in at 217.8 pounds, some 31 pounds heavier than when he won the middleweight title nine months ago.

In a push for a ratings goal of 15 percent set by producer Keichi Sasahara, Dream 9 will be part of a dual broadcast -- with WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito’s title defense against China’s Xiong Zhaozhong -- on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

Dream 9
Tuesday, May 26
Yokohama Arena
Yokohama, Japan

Dream Middleweight Championship
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (184.1) vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller (184.8)

Dream Featherweight Grand Prix
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto (136.8) vs. Joe Warren (137.7)
Masakazu Imanari (138.6) vs. Bibiano Fernandes (138.2)
Yoshiro Maeda (138.2) vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (138.6)
Hideo Tokoro (137.9) vs. Abel Cullum (137.9)

Dream Super Hulk Tournament
Gegard Mousasi (217.8) vs. Mark Hunt (286)
Jan Nortje (352) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (224.4)
Hong Man Choi (330) vs. Jose Canseco (253)
Ikuhisa Minowa (195.8) vs. Bob Sapp (319)

Non-Tournament Bout
Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante (154) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (154)
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