Izumi’s mouthpiece (and teeth) seek greener pastures. (Pic: MMAFighting.com)
Somewhere in time, between our last night and our this morning, Japan was getting busy with the Dream Fight For Japan Grand Prix Finals. As is par for the course, this event was not broadcast here in the USA, but it probably will be at some point in the next few weeks, so if you can hold out and don’t want to ruin the show by reading the results look away, and look away now.
Last minute injuries and changes in line-up aren’t exclusive to American promotions, and this Dream show had its fair share of adjustments to its card. Within days of the event both Todd Duffee and Mach Sakurai were forced from their bouts due to injuries suffered in training, but there was plenty else at stake and the show did go on.
Few people gave Hiroshi Izumi much of a shot against Gegard Mousasi. Sure, there was a chance the the judoka could employ a grappling-focused gameplan to stifle the Dream Light Heavyweight champion, but it was a small chance. Unsurprisingly, Izumi’s five fights against middling competition hadn’t adequately prepared him for “The Dreamcatcher”. Aside from a few poorly executed spinning back fists and a takedown attempt, Izumi was unable to mount much offense, unless bleeding is considered an offensive maneuver. Mousasi’s crisp, confident striking was too much, his hands chipping away at the judoka’s face and body throughout the match, knocking out several of Izumi’s teeth and likely breaking his nose along the way. Just three minutes, twenty-nine seconds into the bout, Izumi was hanging out of the ring to avoid the abuse, prompting his corner to mercifully throw in the towel and save him any further damage.
Two of the best non-Zuffa featherweights collided in a razor-thin fight for the Dream Featherweight title. There was no question that Kazuyuki Miyata would try to use his Olympic wrestling background to neutralize Hiroyuki Takaya‘s stand-up, but he found himself on the defensive early on. The Dream champion dropped Miyata with a big right in the first round, following him down for a few shots before Miyata was able to tie him up. Takaya kept the pressure on, delaying the inevitable takedown, but later in the round Miyata would get him to the mat and land in full mount raining down blows before an escape. Miyata never scored the big suplexes we were all hoping for, often settling for shoving Takaya into the corner until separated, but he grew more confident in his striking as the bout proceeded. Though the challenger dictated the pace of the fight in the later rounds and landed the greater share of strikes, including a wild Capoeira style kick, it wasn’t enough to take home the decision.
Masakazu Imanari balanced wild stand up, which included flying knees and drop kicks, with his usual reluctance to seriously engage on the feet. Hideo Tokoro‘s attempts to strike were frequently met with Imanari flopping to the ground or diving in for a leg lock. At one point the men were given a warning for stalling, but you can’t say that it didn’t make for an interesting bout. Imanari came close to sealing the deal with an ankle lock, but when the fight goes to the judges you never want to be the dude that was butt flopping. Tokoro earned the win–and the Bantamweight GP title–via unanimous decision.
FULL RESULTS (via MMAFighting.com)
DREAM Featherweight Championship
Hiroyuki Takaya def. Kazuyuki Miyata by Split Decision
DREAM Bantamweight Japan GP Final
Hideo Tokoro def. Masakazu Imanari by Unanimous Decision
DREAM Light Heavyweight Championship
Gegard Mousasi def. Hiroshi Izumi by KO (Punches) – Round 1, 3:29
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Drew Fickett by TKO (Punches) – Round 1, 4:41
Kenji Osawa def. Keisuke Fujiwara by Unanimous Decision
Tatsuya Mizuno def. Trevor Prangley by KO (Knee to the Body) – Round 1, 4:41
Marius Zaromskis def. Eiji Ishikawa by Unanimous Decision
Eiji Mitsuoka def. Bruno Carvalho by Unanimous Decision