(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.