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After 19-Month Layoff, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro Returns to Competition at DREAM 8

(Shaolin’s fateful match against JZ, K-1 Hero’s Tournament Final, 9/17/07)

Former top ten lightweight Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro hasn’t competed since September 2007, when he suffered a detached retina during a fight against Gesias Cavalcante. ("It seemed like my eye was inside my head," he told Sherdog. "The pain was unbearable.") And though rumors of his return have swirled since last year, it looks like it’s finally happening — for real this time. DREAM has added a bout between Ribeiro and Olympic silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata to Sunday’s DREAM 8 card, bolstering that event’s weak-sauce lineup.

Ribeiro, who holds notable career victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen, and Mitsuhiro Ishida, spent his time off opening a gym in New York City called Modern Martial Arts. Unless his skills have deteriorated significantly in his hiatus, he should have no problem dispatching Nagata, who has gone 1-3-1 in his last five fights. Video of Ribeiro kicking Ryuki Ueyama’s ass in March 2007 is after the jump.


Aoki Out of DREAM GP! JZ [Not] Back In! Total F*cking Chaos!

(Aoki’s fancy flying guard-pull against Calvancante.)

Are you sitting down? Sherdog is reporting that Shinya Aoki suffered a facial injury in his fight against Gesias Calvancante yesterday, and will not be able to participate in the second round of DREAM’s lightweight grand prix (May 11th; Saitama, Japan). UPDATE: Sherdog amends their story: “Calvancante was approached about replacing the Japanese fighter, but the 24-year-old American Top Team representative could not come to terms with the promotion and has since left Japan.”

Aoki always seemed to have misgivings about continuing in the tournament. Here’s what he said in an interview on DREAM’s website a couple weeks ago:

Are you thinking about fighting on May 11 in DREAM 3?
I win on Apr 29, but not fight on May 11. That’s their business and not me. I’m not well-considered person to agree with fighting on May 11. I’m not thinking about a fight after Apr 29. I may fight if I had an easy fight on Apr 29.

Don’t you want a belt?
Not interested in. My next fight has more meaning than a belt.

And in another interview

“I have no schedule after April 29 so far. I don’t even think about the 2R. I will have a good result on April 29 and clean up my past.”

So, it’s safe to say that Aoki’s heart wasn’t in DREAM’s lightweight GP past the marquee matchup of him vs. Calvancante, and now this so-called “facial injury” is sounding a little too convenient. But hey, he’s in good company: Kazushi Sakuraba wants nothing to do with DREAM’s middleweight tournament. Good lord, is it too much to ask for DREAM to book fighters that actually want to be involved with them?


Aoki Beats JZ in DREAM.2 Rematch; Kang + Minowaman Bounced Out of Middleweight GP

(Shinya Aoki, man of steel.)

While us Westerners were hitting the snooze button over and over again this morning, DREAM‘s second event was going down in Japan’s Saitama Super Arena. In a night full of surprises, the biggest one was how easily Shinya Aoki handled Gesias Calvancante. The “Master of Jumping Locks” played it true to his nickname, spending a large chunk of the first round hanging off of Calvancante’s back and working for a choke, and nailing a flying guard-pull in the second round. JZ landed shots where he could, but Aoki’s ground control and multiple submission attempts convinced the judges to give him the match unanimously. With the win, Aoki advances to the second round of DREAM’s lightweight tournament, which goes down May 11th. Now that he’s made it through Calvancante, he’s a strong favorite to go all the way.

The rest of DREAM.2 was devoted to the first round of their middleweight grand prix. Kazushi Sakuraba’s match with Kyokushin karate practitioner Andrews Nakahara (0-0 in MMA competition before the fight) was as lopsided as expected, with Sak schooling Nakahara on the ground en route to a neck crank submission. But there were two major upsets on the card, as crowd favorites Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa and Denis Kang were eliminated from the GP. Minowa put in a lethargic performance against Taiei Kin — who owned a 2-2 record coming into the tournament — and was mostly unsuccessful in his repeated takedown attempts, absorbing a ton of leg kicks and knees to the head in the process. During the times when Minowa did have Kin on the ground, he failed to inflict any damage, and was eventually handed a loss by the judges.

Denis Kang’s submission loss to Gegard Mousasi was just as disappointing. After an energetic striking exchange to open the match, Kang took Mousasi to the ground and worked for a kimura while dodging Mousasi’s rabbit-punches and knees to the head on the ground (both of which seemed to be quite legal at this event, for some reason). But Kang was eventually kicked off, and when he went in to throw a punch at the downed Mousasi he literally fell into a triangle choke; it was the kind of a loss that only an amateur would experience, and it would be hard to argue for Kang as a top-ten middleweight at this point.

Full results are after the jump. Come back later for videos from the event, and if you get HDNet, set your DVRs now: DREAM.2 will be broadcast this Saturday, May 3rd, at 10:30 p.m. ET.


Video: Gesias Calvancante vs. Joe Lauzon

Since this morning’s Baszler/Chan viddy was pulled off YouTube in nothin’ flat, here’s another must-see: Gesias “JZ” Calvancante vs. Joe Lauzon in an amateur MMA match that took place I don’t know when and I don’t know where (if you can fill in the blanks, please hit us with the info in the comments section). The fight starts out as a jiu-jitsu chess match — honestly, it looks like the guys are just playing Twister at one point — until Lauzon scores the full mount and rains down some green leather. But JZ reverses the position and the round ends. In the second frame, Calvancante patiently works to Lauzon’s back and slips in the rear-naked choke; Lauzon stands up with JZ on his back, and eventually goes down like a wounded animal. It’s an interesting look back at a time when Joe was just starting out and Gesias wasn’t such a freakin’ beast.


JZ/Aoki to Rematch at DREAM.2

(Photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.)

DREAM announced today that Gesias “JZ” Calvancante and Shinya Aoki will face each other again at DREAM.2 (April 29th; Saitama, Japan), to decide which fighter will proceed to the second round of its all-star lightweight grand prix. Calvancante and Aoki’s first match, at last month’s DREAM.1, ended in a no-contest after Calvancante landed a series of illegal elbow strikes to the back of Aoki’s neck, and Aoki wasn’t able to continue fighting; Calvancante had been dominating the action up to that point, and many fans speculated that Aoki overplayed his injury in order to escape the fight and avoid a loss.

DREAM.2 will also feature the opening round of a middleweight grand prix that will feature bouts between Denis Kang and Gegard Mousasi, Kiyoshi Tamura and Masakatsu Funaki, and (possibly) Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Andrews Nakahara; Yoshihiro Akiyama and Ikuhisa Minowa are also expected to participate. The winner of the JZ/Aoki battle will have to compete again just two weeks later at DREAM.3 (May 11th; Saitama, Japan) against Katsuhiko Nagata, who defeated Artur Oumakhanov by unanimous decision in the lightweight tourney’s first round. The rest of the lightweight GP’s second-round matchups look like this:

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Luis “Buscape” Firmino (note: Kawajiri and Firmino previously met at PRIDE Bushido 8 in July 2005, where Kawajiri won by unanimous decision.)

Mitsuhiro Ishida vs. Caol Uno (note: Uno, a UFC/K-1 Hero’s vet, didn’t compete in the lightweight GP’s first round, and is getting an automatic bye into the second.)

Joachim Hansen vs. Eddie Alvarez (note: Joachim Hansen is a freakin’ beast.)


Dream 1 Briefs

(Aoki’s magic tights couldn’t protect him from a fight-ending elbow strike. Photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.)

Dream’s debut event went down earlier today in Japan and showcased some soild action and an annoying “no contest.” To the surprise of no one, Cro Cop rocked Tatsuya Mizuno, ending the fight by a KO just 56 ticks into the match. Mizuno was drilled repeatedly by Cro Cop’s punches and couldn’t recover to survive the onslaught.

MMA Weekly has a choice quote from Cro Cop:

“A lot of fighters refuse to fight me these days, but he had courage and he accepted,” said Filipovic afterward from center ring. “For my next fight, I will need a stronger opponent, so anyone is welcome.”

Well, if you need a stronger opponent, anyone is not welcome. Let’s just get him a worthy adversary next time.

In the Lightweight Grand Prix fight many of us were eyeing, Gesias “J.Z.” Calvancante and Shinya Aoki’s fight was ruled a “no contest” which always blows. J.Z. caught Aoki with an elbow to the back – which is illegal – and the ref stopped the action. Aoki was given ample time to recover, but couldn’t continue. “J.Z.” reportedly did some weird arm-raising prayer routine in his corner while waiting for Aoki to bounce back. When the fight was called by the ringside doc, both fighters apologized to the fans.

In other notable fights, Mitsuhiro Ishida beat Jung Kyung by decision in a fight that had many complaining for lack of actual fighting. “Dida” Amade and mouthy Eddie Alvarez saw Alvarez overpower and pound away, giving the Philly native the win.

Tatsuya Kawajiri outagressed Kultar “The Black Mamba” Gill for a decision win, and Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa kneebarred Lee Gwan into a submission at 1:25 of the first. The tournament winners will fight in May to see who goes to the finials in July.


“JZ” Calvancante and Shinya Aoki Will Throw Down at K-1 in March

(Shinya Aoki wraps up Akira Kikuchi during a Shooto championship bout in February 2007.)

Gesias “JZ” Calvancante and Shinya Aoki — who we have ranked as the #2 lightweight and #7 welterweight in the world, respectively — were originally scheduled to face each other at the Yarennoka! card in Japan on New Year’s Eve, but Calvancante had to pull out of the match due to a knee injury sustained during training. Luckily, Calvancante has recovered and the fight has been rescheduled to a K-1 event in March.

Calvancante, a Brazilian-born American Top Team member, has won the K-1 HERO’S Lightweight Grand Prix championship for the last two years, knocking off fighters like Rani Yahya, Caol Uno, and Vitor Ribeiro in the process. His record is 14-1-1, with his only loss coming at the hands of Joachim Hansen in 2004, and his draw coming from a 2005 match with current IFL lightweight champ Ryan Schultz. Shinya Aoki — one of the only fighters in the world whose ground skills may surpass B.J. Penn’s — is Shooto’s current middleweight (167 lbs.) champion. The Japanese fighter’s 12-2 record includes wins over Joachim Hansen, Clay French and Akira Kikuchi (twice).

It’s not clear yet which weight class the match will be fought at, or if this will be an open-weight bout — we’ll update you when we know more.