DREAM Lightweight GP Bout:
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Luis Buscape
Former Shooto welterweight champion Tatsuya Kawajiri takes on Brazilian Top Team lightweight Luis Buscape. Kawajiri has a 21-4-2 record and trains out of T-Blood with Mitsuhiro Ishida. Buscape has a 12-3 record and trains out of the Brazilian Top Team with Murilo Bustamante.
Kawajiri comes off a decision victory over Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill at DREAM 1, while Buscape submitted Kazuyuki Miyata at the same show.
This will be a rematch of a fight that happened several years ago at Pride Bushido 8, where Kawajiri won a decision. A lot more is riding on this fight than their first encounter, so expect them to take more risks and be more aggressive this time around.
Kawajiri has been steadily improving his striking in recent years and coupled with his wrestling, he should have an edge over Buscape. On the other hand, Buscape is the better submission fighter of the two and will no doubt look to end the fight in that manner.
Look for Kawajiri to be more aggressive this time around. He will secure a takedown right off the bat and begin to pound on Buscape with relentless strikes. Buscape will need to capitalize if Kawajiri gets a little too careless, throwing submissions from his back and looking to lock one either for a finish or a possible sweep. The fight will play out with Kawajiri pounding on Buscape en route to a decision victory.
Prediction: Tatsuya Kawajiri by decision.
DREAM Lightweight GP Bout:
Joachim Hansen vs. Eddie Alvarez
Former Shooto welterweight champion Joachim Hansen faces off with former Bodog Fight welterweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Hansen has a 17-6-1 record and trains out of Hellboy Hansen MMA in Norway. Alvarez has a 13-1 record and trains out of the Fight Factory with Stephan Haigh.
Hansen scored a dominant decision victory over Koutetsu Boku at DREAM.1, while Alvarez comes off a stoppage victory over Andre “Dida” Amade at the same show.
This is going to be the most competitive and evenly matched bout of the night. Expect it to be all action and vie for fight of the night honors.
Hansen is the better striker and submission fighter of the two, but Alvarez is the better wrestler. That could play a big factor in this one. Another factor will be which fighter will be better conditioned to go the distance.
Alvarez got tagged several times by Amade and switched strategies in the fight by taking him down and pounding out a stoppage. Hansen will be willing to trade, but if Alvarez gets tagged again, look for him to shoot for a takedown like in his last fight. The only difference is that Hansen will threaten from his back with submissions, unlike Amade. This is a tough fight to pick, but the difference will be Alvarez’s wrestling, which will win him a hotly contested decision.
Prediction: Eddie Alvarez by decision.
DREAM Lightweight GP Bout:
Mitsuhiro Ishida vs. Caol Uno
Former Shooto Pacific Rim welterweight champion Mitsuhiro Ishida takes on K-1 Hero’s veteran Caol Uno. Ishida has a 16-3-1 record and trains out of T-Blood with Tatsuya Kawajiri. Uno has a 24-10-1 record and trains out of Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo with Yushin Okami.
Ishida comes off a decision victory over Bu Kyung Jung at DREAM.1, while Uno dropped a decision to Andre “Dida” Amade at K-1 Hero’s 10.
Ishida has been on the cusp of greatness, but fell short in a loss to Takanori Gomi. He has another chance by winning the DREAM lightweight grand prix. For Uno, it may be his last chance at making another run at being a relevant fighter.
The edge in wrestling goes to Ishida, but Uno is the better submission fighter. Neither is known for his striking and it could go either way on the feet.
Ishida has stated his displeasure over Uno skipping the first round of the tournament and being seeded into the second round, while every other fighter had to fight his way in. Uno is a former shell of himself and this could be his last hurrah as a relevant competitor. Look for Ishida to take Uno down and pound out a brutal decision victory.
Prediction: Mitsuhiro Ishida by decision.
DREAM Middleweight GP Bout:
Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Former ICON Sport middleweight champion Jason “Mayhem” Miller takes on pro wrestler Katsuyori Shibata. Miller has a 20-5 record and trains out of Team Quest with Dan Henderson. Shibata has a 2-3 record and trains out of Japan with Masakatsu Funaki.
Miller in his last outing won a decision victory over Tim Kennedy at HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon, while Shibata comes off a stoppage loss to Min Suk Heo at K-1 Hero’s Korea 2007.
Although the first round is already complete, this will be the last match-up of the middleweight grand prix. Miller never fails to deliver an entertaining fight and this one should be no different.
Miller has the edge in every aspect of the fight. He is the better ground fighter and the better striker. Shibata only has his tenacity behind him in this fight and not much else.
This is an easy fight for Miller. He is clearly the better fighter and Shibata is on a three-fight losing streak, which will continue with this fight. Look for Miller to entertain the crowd and submit Shibata with ease.
Prediction: Jason “Mayhem” Miller by submission in the first round.
DREAM Middleweight GP Reserve Bout:
Melvin Manhoef vs. Dae Won Kim
Dutch striking machine Melvin Manhoef faces off with Korean wrestler Dae Won Kim. Manhoef has a 20-4-1 record and trains out of Holland. Kim has a 4-3 record and trains out of Korea.
Manhoef earned a stoppage victory over Pride veteran Yosuke Nishijima at K-1 Dynamite!! 2007, while Kim won a doctor’s stoppage over Marcelo Garcia at K-1 Hero’s Korea 2007.
Manhoef just fought a K-1 rules kickboxing match, getting knocked out by former K-1 world champion Remy Bonjansky. It seems, though, that he is injury free entering the fight. Kim has always looked good in his fights, but hasn’t been able to break through.
Manhoef is by far the better striker of the two, but Kim has the edge on ground with his wrestling skills. Neither fighter is too well versed in submissions. If cardio plays into the fight, expect Kim to have the edge because Manhoef typically tires out early trying to finish the fight.
This is a classic striker vs. grappler match-up. Whoever can get off first will win the fight. Kim needs to be patient and avoid Manhoef’s onslaught of strikes, then score a takedown to work his game. Although he can very well win, Kim will be unable to avoid Manhoef’s fierce striking game and will be finished.
Prediction: Melvin Manhoef by TKO in the first round.
DREAM Welterweight Championship Eliminator Bout:
Katsuya Inoue vs. Nick Diaz
Former welterweight King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue takes on EliteXC veteran Nick Diaz. Inoue has a 16-5-3 record and trains out of Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW with Kenji Osawa. Diaz has a 15-7 record and trains out of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with his brother, Nathan Diaz.
Inoue comes off a draw with Russian fighter Djamal Kurbanov at Pancrase: Shining 3, while Diaz suffered a stoppage loss to KJ Noons at EliteXC: Renegade.
Inoue dropped down to lightweight in his last fight and it didn’t seem to work for him. Now he returns to welterweight to try and recapture success. Diaz has had a troubled year, but finally gets a chance to fight after being prevented to do so in his last scheduled outing in California due to complications with the athletic commission.
Inoue is the better wrestler and has technical striking, but lacks power in his strikes. Diaz is a wizard in submissions and, just like Inoue, is technical on the feet, but lacks power in his strikes. Both fighters have decent cardio, but Diaz had to cut weight on late notice and might be jet-lagged, affecting his cardio.
At the beginning of the week, Diaz was told by EliteXC that he would not be allowed to fight because of the close proximity of this bout to his next fight for EliteXC, but that decision was later reversed midway through the week. Inoue is a tough fighter, but Diaz should be able to control the fight and win a decision to get a chance to fight Hayato “Mach” Sakurai for the title in late July.
Prediction: Nick Diaz by decision.
Daisuke Nakamura vs. Bu Kyung Jung
Pride veteran Daisuke Nakamura faces off with 2000 Olympic Judo silver medalist Bu Kyung Jung. Nakamura has a 13-9 record and trains out of the U-File Camp with Kiyoshi Tamura. Jung has a 0-2 record and trains out of Team Yoon with Dong Sik Yoon.
Nakamura comes off a decision victory over Juri Ivlev at M-1 Challenge, while Jung dropped a decision to Mitsuhiro Ishida at DREAM.1.
This should be an interesting fight because Nakamura has shown himself to be a talented fighter, while Jung will finally get a chance to fight someone on his level and really show how good of a fighter he is.
Expect an entertaining ground battle between these two. Both are well versed in submissions, but an edge would have to go to Jung, who almost submitted two of the best lightweights in the world. On the feet, Nakamura would have a slight edge because of his experience in MMA.
Jung finally gets an opponent that he has a chance at beating after being put up against two of the best lightweights in the world in Top 5 lightweights Shinya Aoki and Mitsuhiro Ishida. Nakamura has always been a game fighter, but he may be in over his head against Jung if the fight goes to the ground. Expect Jung to get the fight down and work his ground mastery, locking on a submission late in the opening stanza.
Prediction: Bu Kyung Jung by submission in the first round.
Takeshi Yamazaki vs. Shoji Maruyama
Team Grabaka fighter Takeshi Yamazaki takes on lightweight King of Pancrase Shoji Maruyama. Yamazaki has a 13-7-2 record and trains out of Team Grabaka with Kazuo Misaki. Maruyama has a 6-2-1 record and trains out of K.I.B.A. in Japan.
Yamazaki won a submission victory over Daiki Ozaki at Cage Force: EX Eastern Bound, while Maruyama comes off a draw with Koji Oishi at Pancrase: Shining 3.
The winner of this fight might have a showdown with Kid Yamamoto for the DREAM featherweight title in his future, so a lot is riding on this fight. They have contrasting styles, which could make for an entertaining fight.
Yamazaki has the edge on the ground, being a better wrestler and submission fighter. Shoji will have the edge on the feet and is the bigger fighter, cutting down to fight at featherweight.
This bout will be an exciting back and forth affair with both fighters getting in their shots. Yamazaki will dominate on the ground and Maruyama will crack him on the feet, but it will be Yamazaki’s ground control that will win him the decision.
Prediction: Takeshi Yamazaki by decision.