DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki will reportedly take on either former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Jamie Varner or former Maximum Fighting Championship lightweight champion Antonio McKee at DREAM’s “Fight for Japan” disaster relief benefit show on May 29 in Tokyo.
According to MMAWeekly, Aoki’s original opponent, UFC and Shooto veteran Williamy Freire, was unable to secure a visa to fight in Japan, so the promotion offered the bout to McKee, who was inexplicably stripped of his MFC belt earlier this month and learned of the news from a press release put out by the Edmonton, Alberta-based promotion announcing that Drew Fickett and Hermes Franca would be competing in its next show for “Mandingo’s” strap. His opportunity to contend for DREAM gold, however has hit a snag as he too does not have a visa to fight in Asia. As a precaution, DREAM has now offered Varner the bout, but it is unclear at this point which of the two former champions will be taking on Aoki in three weeks.
Short notice bouts are nothing new for FEG-owned promotions or their Japanese counterparts. In December the promotion brought in Todd Duffee to face Alistair Overeem a few days prior to its K-1 NYE Dynamite! show. Strangely, Overeem won the DREAM interim heavyweight title for taking out the unmatched American, who had never fought for the promotion before.
Fighters have complained for years that despite signing contracts months in advance of events, often they do not find out who they are fighting until one or two weeks out from the bout. Some fighters have suggested that they have been intentionally left in the dark about whom they will be facing to put them at a disadvantage, especially when facing Japanese opponents.
Don’t be surprised if a third fighter is named as Aoki’s official opponent.