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Sengoku Featherweight GP Quarterfinals, Late Tonight on HDNet

Ronnie Mann Hatsu Hioki MMA Japan Sengoku
(Main-eventers Ronnie Mann and Hatsu Hioki. Image courtesy of allelbows.)

Attention insomniacs and members of the undead: HDNet is hooking you up tonight with a live broadcast of "Sengoku Eighth Battle," which kicks off at 3 a.m. ET/midnight PT. Though the card lacks big names, it will feature the quarterfinals of their ongoing featherweight grand prix — and if the fights are as entertaining as the FWGP’s first round, we’ll be in for a treat, so DVR this bitch at the very least. Here’s what the matchups will look like…

FEATHERWEIGHT GRAND PRIX BOUTS
Hatsu Hioki vs. Ronnie Mann
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Nam Phan
Masanori Kanehara vs. Chan Sung Jung
Marlon Sandro vs. Nick Denis

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Kid Yamamoto to Return (Finally) at DREAM.9; ‘Superdreadnought’ Matches Also Featured


(Kid Yamamoto highlight reel, y’all. Bounce ta dis.)

As previously rumored, former K-1 HERO’s champ and #4-ranked featherweight Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto will end a year-and-a-half hiatus at DREAM.9 (May 26th; Yokohama, Japan) when he enters their ongoing featherweight grand prix, taking an automatic bye to the quarterfinals. Yamamoto hasn’t competed since his second-round TKO victory over Rani Yahya at K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! on New Year’s Eve 2007, which was his 14th-consecutive win. And it seems like DREAM’s organizers have a sense of humor, because they’re slotting him against former U.S. wrestling champion Joe Warren, who, like Yamamoto, was involved in a reputation-injuring marijuana scandal. (Weed is a big no-no over there. Very dishonorable.) May the best pothead win? DREAM.9′s featherweight GP matchups will be arranged thusly:

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Joe Warren
Masakazu Imanari vs. Bibiano Fernandes
Yoshiro Maeda vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
Abel Cullum vs. Hideo Tokoro*

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DREAM 7 Quick Results + Videos

(Aoki vs. Gardner. Props to MMALinker.)

The opening round of DREAM’s featherweight GP is in the books, with tournament standout Masakazu Imanari advancing (just barely) over Atsushi Yamamoto, former wrestling world champion Joe Warren scoring a cut-stoppage victory over former WEC bantamweight champ Chase Beebe, and Korean judo champ Jong Won Kim losing his MMA debut to Hiroyuki Takaya.

The non-tourney bouts were all easy victories for the big names, as Mitsuhiro Ishida used his wrestling to dominate Daisuke Nakamura for 15 minutes, and Tatsuya Kawajiri was able to choke out BJ Penn student Ross Ebanez in the shortest fight of the night. The Shinya Aoki/David Gardner 163-pound feature started out exciting, with the American punishing Aoki with punches to the face after Aoki tried to pull guard, but once Aoki took his back it was only a matter of time before the submission came. Completely trapped, Gardner took a couple opportunites to wave to the audience. I don’t think I need to tell you what happens when you’ve got Aoki on your back and you decide to lift your arm to wave.

Full results are after the jump, followed by videos of the Warren/Beebe and Ishida/Nakamura scraps.

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Bout Order Announced for Sunday’s DREAM 7

Shinya Aoki Japan MMA BJ Penn
(Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

FEG has finalized the lineup for this Sunday’s DREAM 7 in Saitama, Japan, which will feature the opening round of their featherweight grand prix. Even though the card contains such big names as Shinya Aoki (in a welterweight tune-up match), Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Mitsuhiro Ishida, the show’s main event will be the tournament’s most anticipated first-round bout, between #5-ranked featherweight Masakazu Imanari and Krazy Bee standout Atsushi Yamamoto. Here’s how the fights will go down: 

9. FW GP: Masakazu Imanari vs. Atsushi Yamamoto
8. FW GP: Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Kim Jong Won
7. FW GP: Yoshiro Maeda vs. Micah Miller
6. Lightweights: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Ross Ebanez 
5. Welterweights: Shinya Aoki vs. David Gardner
4. Lightweights: Mitsuhiro Ishida vs. Daisuke Nakamura
3. FW GP: Akiyo Nishiura vs. Abel Cullum
2. FW GP: Chase Beebe vs. Joe Warren
1. FW GP: Takafumi Otsuka vs. Bibiano Fernandes

You might have noticed that DREAM 7 will only produce six quarterfinalists for the featherweight GP. The other two will be Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who’s getting a bye to the second round, and the winner of the Daiki Hata/Hideo Tokoro match at DREAM 8 (April 5th, Nagoya, Japan). Unfortunately, Sunday’s event won’t be broadcast on HDNet until next Saturday, but we’ll post the best fights on Sunday and Monday, so stay tuned.

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Aoki, Sakurai Booked for DREAM Welterweight GP

Hayato Sakurai Shinya Aoki Ikuhisa Minowa MMA DREAM
(You call that a fighter’s fist pose, Sakurai? Show me some goddamned intensity! Photo courtesy of DreamOfficial.com via Suki MMA.)

Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) — the parent company of Japanese MMA promotion DREAMannounced today that their upcoming welterweight grand prix will feature #9 pound-for-pounder Shinya Aoki, moving back up in weight class from last year’s lightweight GP, in which he was a finalist. Perennial welterweight threat/amateur porn star Hayato "Mach" Sakurai will also participate in the 168-pound tournament (which kicks off April 5th in Nagoya, Japan), and freak show mainstay Ikuhisa Minowa will be on the card in a non-GP match. No other fighters have been named for the grand prix, though the winner of the DEEP 40 bout between Hidetaka Monma and Seichi Ikemoto is expected to join the field.

No word yet if Aoki and Sakurai will have to face each other in the first round of the grand prix, but the two fighters previously met at a Shooto event in August 2005, where the far-more-experienced (at the time) Sakurai defeated Aoki by unanimous decision. Aoki went on to win Shooto’s middleweight (168 pounds) championship the next year — which he still technically holds — before dropping to lightweight in 2007. Both men have won their last two fights, with Sakurai winning a decision against Kuniyoshi Hironaka at DREAM 6 last September and scoring a TKO over Katsuyori Shibata at Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve, and Aoki earning quick submission victories over Todd Moore and Eddie Alvarez at the same events.

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DREAM Featherweight GP Field Nearly Complete

Masakazu Imanari Mike Brown MMA featherweights
(Masakazu Imanari during his win over Mike Brown at DEEP 22 in December 2005. Photo courtesy of stephenfactory.)

DREAM’s next multi-event grand prix kicks off at DREAM 7 (March 8th; Saitama, Japan), featuring featherweights; the exact weight limit will be either 63 or 63.5 kilograms, which is closer to 140 pounds than the 145-pound Western definition of the weight class. According to Nightmare of Battle, eleven fighters have been officially announced so far. Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto’s participation is still a question mark, though he’d probably get seeded to the second round if he signs on. Here’s what the field is looking like currently:

Masakazu Imanari: #5-ranked featherweight. Is the reigning Cage Rage World Featherweight champion, and DEEP Bantamweight champion.

Hiroyuki Takaya: Shooto/K-1 vet who most recently fought for the WEC, where he has lost consecutive fights to Leonard Garcia and Cub Swanson.

Takafumi Otsuka: DEEP/Fury FC vet

Hideo Tokoro: Has had nearly 40 career fights, with three appearances at DREAM events. Most recently lost to Daisuke Nakamura at Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve. Holds wins over Alexandre Franca Nogueira and Royler Gracie; once fought Royce Gracie to a draw.

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Badr Hari Discusses K-1 DQ Loss, Blames Emotions


Badr Hari discusses his DQ loss in K-1 – Watch more free videos

Badr Hari doesn’t seem too concerned about his disqualification loss in the finals of this weekend’s K-1 World GP.  In case you missed it, Hari took Remy Bonjasky down, which is already illegal in K-1, but then he decided that as long as he was down there he might as well punch him a couple of times and then stomp on his face.  When the interviewer here points out to him that this is “prohibited,” Hari responds: “Yeah, but cycling on the pavement is prohibited too.”

Seriously?  That’s his response to illegally attacking an opponent who was under the referee’s care?  Apparently Hari didn’t feel that his actions in the fight made him unlikeable enough.  No, better go ahead and follow that up with a dismissive statement that reveals your amoral thought process to the world, just to be sure.

The argument that I absolutely don’t buy in this case is that he let his emotions get the better of him because Bonjasky didn’t come to fight.  First of all, when Bonjasky dropped him in the first, that seemed an awful lot like fighting.  Second, if you get mad in a kickboxing match, why not kick or punch the other guy in the head, torso, or leg region while you’re both standing?  It’s an effective expression of anger, and it’s legal!

Then again, if you fight only within the scope of the rules, how is everyone supposed to know what an asshole you are?

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Gomi + Trigg Win, Schultz Gets KTFO @ Sengoku 4

Frank Trigg Sengoku MMA
(In Trigg’s defense, he had just gotten out of the pool.)

Sengoku’s “Fourth Battle” went down today in Saitama, Japan, featuring the long-awaited returns of Takanori Gomi and Frank Trigg, and the first round of their lightweight grand prix. In a non-tourney main event bout, Gomi faced 5-1 Korean DEEP vet Seung Hwan Bang — who should have been steamrolled by the legendary “Fireball Kid” — but Bang hung in for all three rounds. Eventually, Gomi’s accurate striking and control of the fight’s pace convinced the judges to unanimously give him the win. Trigg’s opponent was Makoto Takimoto, a judoka and PRIDE vet who came into the fight with a 4-4 MMA record, and as with Gomi, the fight was a little more difficult than it should have been. Trigg dominated the standup and inflicted major damage from top positions on the ground, but Takimoto nearly caught Twinkle Toes in a kimura in the second round, and spent a lot of the third on top; still, it wasn’t enough to prevent the judges from giving Trigg the decision after the fight went the distance.

The first round of Sengoku’s lightweight tournament held some surprises as three big names were unceremoniously bounced out of the competition. The HIT Squad’s Clay French was tapped in 31 seconds via achilles lock by former Pancrase mainstay Satoru Kitaoka, and jiu-jitsu ace Rodrigo Damm also suffered a first-round submission at the hands of Eiji Mitsuoka. Former IFL lightweight champ Ryan Schultz, who was the biggest favorite to win his first GP match, got his lights put out by a superman-punch from Cage Force champ Mizuto Hirota in the second round of their fight. Full results after the jump; videos to come.

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