(Alvarez vs. Kawajiri: Fight of the Night. Props to MMA-Core.)
Chaos rules when it comes to single-night tournaments, and today’s DREAM.5 show in Osaka was marked by an unexpected twist — lightweight grand prix alternate Joachim Hansen defeated crowd-favorite Shinya Aoki in the finals to become DREAM’s first lightweight champion, following an eye injury suffered by Eddie Alvarez in his semifinal match.
The first semifinal bout was dominated by Aoki, who threw his entire bag of submissions at Caol Uno, threatening Uno repeatedly with chokes, leglocks and armbars. Uno hung in like a champ, but the judges made the obvious choice when the clock ran out, and an exhausted Aoki advanced to the finals.
In the second semifinal, the Philadelphia-based Eddie Alvarez proved that he should be counted among the world’s best lightweights, getting the best of Tatsuya Kawajiri in a thrilling slugfest. Alvarez suffered a cut under his right eye early by Kawajiri’s nasty power punches, but Alvarez dropped Kawajiri with his own. After time was called for Alvarez’s eye to be checked out, the fight-restarted with Kawajiri taking control again, punching Alvarez to the mat and swarming him from the top. Alvarez eventually got to his feet, taking heavy damage in return. But Alvarez battled back, throwing his fists until Kawajiri succumbed. Unfortunately, it was later announced that Alvarez wouldn’t be able to continue to the finals because his eye was swollen shut.
The tournament’s alternate bout saw Joachim Hansen withstand an early assault by Indian fighter Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill; Hellboy quickly regained control and put away his outmatched opponent via armbar at the 2:33 mark. Hansen, who had lost to Alvarez at the lightweight GP quarterfinals in May, would now be replacing him in the finals.
Aoki and Hansen went toe to toe in the last bout of the evening. Aoki took Hansen down to kick things off but couldn’t make anything happen with his position. Hansen pushed Aoki off and the fight was briefly halted when Hellboy upkicked Aoki in the balls. After pulling guard from the standing position, Aoki went for a gogoplata attempt that failed. Hansen responded by getting up and throwing down some deadly punches from the top. When one of the punches dazed Aoki, Hansen pounced and threw more until Aoki was knocked senseless; the TKO victory avenged Hansen’s previous loss to Aoki (by gogoplata) at PRIDE Shockwave 2006. Hansen later said that Eddie Alvarez would be his first title defense.
In other action, Daisuke Nakamura made rookie Andy Ologun his bitch with a stunning flying guard-pull into armbar, Yoshihiro Akiyama gave Katsuyori Shibata his fifth straight loss via gi-choke, and Urijah Faber‘s undefeated featherweight protege Joseph Benavidez impressed the Japanese crowd, ending Junya Kudo’s night with a body slam and guillotine choke. In the heavyweight feature, Mark Hunt made the mistake of slamming Alistair Overeem down after some sharp striking, and Overeem was able to set up a fight-ending armlock from the bottom after just 71 seconds. Full results are below.
1. Shinya Aoki def. Caol Uno via unanimous decision
2. Eddie Alvarez def. Tatsuya Kawajiri via TKO, 7:35 of round 1
3. [alternate bout] Joachim Hansen def. Kultar Gill via submission (armbar), 2:33 of round 1
4. Joachim Hansen def. Shinya Aoki via TKO, 4:19 of round 1
Daisuke Nakamura def. Andy Ologun via submission (armbar), 3:41 of round 1
Joseph Benavidez def. Junya Kudo via submission (guillotine choke), 2:42 of round 1
Kuniyoshi Hironaka def. Motoki Miyazawa via TKO (cut), 8:57 of round 1
Hideo Tokoro def. Takeshi Yamazaki via unanimous decision
Yoshihiro Akiyama def. Katsuyori Shibata via submission (gi choke), 6:34 of round 1
Alistair Overeem def. Mark Hunt via submission (keylock), 1:11 of round 1