DREAM 1 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on July 20, 2009, 6:27 AM
-In an attempt to replicate the success of PRIDE, the DREAM promotion was formed in 2008 by FEG (the parent company of K1) to replace their MMA offshoot, Hero’s. Basically since PRIDE had been bought out by Zuffa in 2007, and the US company had been unable for various reasons to get the brand going again, the executives and backstage personnel from PRIDE had been inactive, and so DREAM was formed by a union of those people alongside the people behind Hero’s. Immediately they put together a solid roster – mainly guys who had for whatever reason not signed up with Zuffa following the PRIDE crash (the big-name Lightweights mostly) as well as the fighters who had been with Hero’s, and a couple of others like Mirko Cro Cop who hadn’t done so well in the US. This was their inaugural show, featuring the first round of a Lightweight Grand Prix (which had been planned for 2007 in PRIDE prior to the sale of the company).
Like many non-UFC MMA events these days DREAM is broadcast in the US on HDNet, and it’s those broadcasts I’ll be looking at as opposed to the Japanese versions.
-Your hosts are Kenny Rice and Frank Trigg.
-We go into the arena for the fighter introduction and sure enough, this is just like PRIDE, with the Screaming Lady Announcer and everything. Cro Cop gets an absolutely monstrous response. Did these people not SEE his UFC run? Ha, to be fair I doubt it’d matter to the Japanese crowd anyway.
-They run down the DREAM rules, and it seems like all fights are two rounds, one ten-minute, one five-minute. There’s no kicks or stomps to the head of a downed opponent, and elbows on the ground are outlawed too.
Bum Chan Kang is a Korean fighter who I’ve never heard of. Sherdog has his record as 1-1 at this point in his career. Oh, great, Frank Trigg just told us Bum is actually a baseball player. Why the hell is he getting into MMA? You tell me. It is a Minowaman fight though so you expect this sort of nonsense. The overdubbed music here on the ring entrances is killing me, by the way. Worse than UFC DVDs even.
We begin and hopefully this is short. Minowa rolls out of his corner for no discernable reason, and then easily dodges a low kick. He does the roll again, then lands a right hand before hitting a double leg to half-guard. From there Minowaman twists over into a kneebar and straightens it for the tapout.
Post-fight Trigg is like, if you expected that fight to go any other way, you’re insane. Well, it’s true! Total freakshow stuff of the worst kind here.
-Ron Kruck takes a look at the Lightweight Grand Prix, explaining how DREAM was created as well. Tournament matches are Boku vs. Hansen, Buscape vs. Miyata, Nagata vs. Oumakhanov, Jung vs. Ishida, Alvarez vs. Dida, Kawajiri vs. Gill, and Aoki vs. JZ Cavalcante, with Caol Uno being given a bye into the next round. I think the Uno decision happened when Shaolin Ribeiro pulled out with injury if I recall correctly.
After PRIDE closed its doors the rumour was that Sakurai was on his way back to the UFC for an August 2007 match with Diego Sanchez, but that fell through for whatever reason and he ended up fighting on the Yarrenoka! show on NYE in Japan before signing with DREAM. Monma, meanwhile, had fought in Hero’s before – losing to JZ Cavalcante – but he’s mainly a veteran of the Cage Force promotion, fighting the likes of Dan Hardy, Luigi Fioravanti, Jess Liaudin and Dave Strasser with mixed results. Must point out that the little information box that HDNet has for both fighter with ‘key victories’ and ‘key losses’ is absolutely tremendous. Something UFC should rip off in fact.
First round begins and they circle tentatively, with Mach landing a couple of his trademark heavy leg kicks. Combo from Sakurai backs Monma up, but he doesn’t really follow it up. Plum clinch from Sakurai and he delivers a couple of knees before Monma goes to his back in guard. Monma works a closed, defensive guard, before Sakurai chooses to bring it back to standing. Nasty low kick drops Monma but Mach calls him back up. Sakurai is totally outstriking Monma here. Another leg kick lands for Sakurai before Monma catches him with a right hand. Short counter left hook from Sakurai drops Monma and he closes in, landing some brutal strikes on the ground, and the ref lets it go for AGES before stopping it.
Monma looked WAAAY out of his depth here and Mach just took him apart. Pretty much a squash actually, but a good one for Sakurai as Monma is no tomato can.
Hansen’s career appeared to be on a bit of a slide at this stage, as he’d lost to Shinya Aoki at the end of 2006, struggled past Jason Ireland and then lost a listless decision to Ejii Mitsuoka in his return to Shooto. Boku meanwhile, outside of a loss to Artur Oumakhanov, had been on a really solid run, getting wins over the likes of Hermes Franca and Alexandre Nogueira, and so an upset wasn’t out of the question here by any means.
Round One, and both men throw out some punches early before Hansen lands a left hook that drops Boku! Hansen drops into the guard with another left and looks to capitalize, but Boku ties him up nicely and secures a full butterfly guard. Hansen works to pass and gets to half-guard, but right away Boku works the butterfly hooks back. Hansen pins him into the corner, and Boku looks to get up, but takes a knee to the face on the way, before Hansen delivers a nice suplex to put him back down. Hansen takes the back and then does a crazy rolling move to get his hooks in, sort of flipping himself and Boku right over. Crowd pop big for that one. One hook slips out and Hansen kicks at the body with the leg while trying to work it back inside. Boku tries to turn into him, but can’t quite manage it and Hansen gets the hook back in. Hansen lands some punches from behind and then switches to a body triangle, then looks to lock up the rear naked choke. He looks to switch off for the armbar, but Boku defends it well and turns into him. Triangle attempt from Hansen now, but Boku slips his head free and stands up. Nice combo lands for Boku off the restart but it doesn’t seem to faze Hansen who stalks forward. Left hand from Hansen wobbles Boku, and it looks like Hellboy is packing much more power in his punches. Exchange continues with both men landing, and Boku’s punches only seem to be making Hansen angry. Into the clinch though and Hansen slams him to the ground and passes to side mount. Full mount for Hellboy but Boku gets half-guard, so Hansen stands and clinches again, dragging Boku to the mat once more. He takes the back again and gets the body triangle, landing some punches and looking for the choke. He can’t get it though and Boku manages to escape and get to full guard. One minute to go and Hansen lands with some ground-and-pound before Boku pushes off and gets to his feet. They exchange punches before Hansen takes him down again, getting to the guard. Short punches land for Hansen as the round comes to an end.
Second round and they exchange strikes again with Hansen getting the better of it. Brief clinch is broken and Boku comes back with a bodyshot and some peppering punches ala Nick Diaz. Hansen clinches again but nothing happens and the ref calls the break. Good knee to the body from Boku in an exchange, but Hansen comes back with the plum clinch and some knees of his own before hitting a foot sweep down to the guard. Hansen works to pass and lands some punches from the top, but Boku does a good job defensively and prevents him getting a dominant position. They come back to their feet and Boku peppers him with another combo, but Hansen gets really angry now and drops his hands and starts yelling at the Japanese fighter. You can imagine, can’t you? HIT ME HARDER YOU PUSSY!~! Hansen returns fire and decks him with a left hand, and he drops down into the half-guard and looks to be prepping an arm triangle. He gives it up and they come back to standing, and Boku throws another combo, countered by a Hansen left hook on the buzzer.
Judges all score the bout for Joachim Hansen, no surprise there. Boku was game and never looked on the verge of being stopped, but Hansen came into this back on his very best form and put in a really impressive performance, working over his opponent both standing and on the ground. Really good fight too with only a few dull spots. Hansen’s pretty much always fun to watch and this was no exception.
Buscape actually hadn’t fought since his last PRIDE appearance in 2006, no idea what caused that layoff, whether it was injury or what. I always liked Buscape though so it’s great to see him back in the big leagues against the top fighters. Miyata, meanwhile, is the former wrestler who was knocked out by Kid Yamamoto with that crazy flying knee a few years back in Hero’s. Last time I saw him he was beating British fighter Harvey Harra in Hero’s.
Round One and Buscape immediately gets a clinch, but Miyata trips him to the ground. Full guard for Buscape but Miyata decides to stand, and they clinch up again before Miyata gets a head throw to put Buscape back down, this time landing in mount. The Brazilian immediately switches to half-guard and then a full butterfly guard though. Couple of solid punches land for Miyata from the guard, but he allows Buscape up to his feet in another clinch. Buscape tries a single leg and then just goes to muscle Miyata down from a bodylock, but the Japanese wrestler’s having none of it and gets a hip throw to put Buscape down in guard again. Miyata looks a little lost over what to do from the position though and just stands over Buscape in the guard. Fight slows down a lot as Miyata looks to drop some punches over the top, but then Buscape gets a trip from underneath and puts Miyata on his back. Miyata surprisingly goes for some sort of toehold, but in doing so he allows Buscape top position in half-guard. Miyata escapes to his feet, but Buscape does a good job of taking him back down to guard. Some good punches land for Buscape from the top and as Miyata rolls into a front facelock Buscape lands some knees. Miyata ends up trapped on his back again, turning to his side before giving up his back. Over/under from Buscape and then he gets the hooks in, and from there he works to lock up the rear naked choke, and forces Miyata to tap out.
Decent ground battle if a little dull. Miyata was able to take Buscape down at will early, but couldn’t do anything with the positioning as really, he’s still a one-dimensional wrestler, and once Buscape took top position he did damage with his strikes, took the back, and got Miyata out of there. Wasn’t an outstanding performance from Buscape though, as I guess it took him time to get back into it after over a year on the shelf.
Olympic wrestler Nagata had won the Silver medal in the 2000 Olympics, but he hadn’t seen as much success in MMA, winning three fights but losing to Caol Uno and Yoshihiro Akiyama, although Akiyama to be fair is much bigger than him. His brother is famous pro-wrestler Yuij Nagata, for those who care about such things. Oumakhanov, at one stage, was being pushed by some people as a possible Lightweight version of Fedor, as he won five of his first six fights and looked pretty good in doing so. A brutal loss to Andre Dida in Hero’s had dropped his stock a little, but he’d still been able to win the Cage Force 2007 Lightweight tournament, beating Kotetsu Boku in the finals. Nagata is wearing long tights here, albeit not full length ones like Shinya Aoki.
We get underway and Artur comes forward as Nagata stays on the outside circling. Good low kick from Oumakhanov. They continue to circle and throw feints and very little is happening thus far. Low kick from Artur as Trigg is laughing at Nagata’s pink wrestling shoes on commentary. With about four minutes gone Nagata manages to shoot in and finally gets a takedown to Oumakhanov’s guard. He tries to flurry with some punches but Artur avoids most of them using head movement. Nagata has good control here, but his punches from the guard look amateurish. Nagata pins him in the corner, attempting to stack up to deliver some punches, but none of them really hurt Oumakhanov. Nagata tries to stand over him to kick the legs, but the Russian hits a beautiful switch and gets the Japanese wrestler on his back. Artur quickly passes to full mount and now Nagata is in trouble. Nagata manages to scramble back to guard though, and from there he uses the ropes to get to his feet and takes Oumakhanov down again. Little happens from the position and the round ends there.
2nd round and they circle before Oumakhanov throws a kick and goes for a takedown. He manages to get Nagata down, but the ropes get in the way and it allows Nagata to reverse and take top position in the Russian’s guard. Nagata stands and kicks the legs, then drops down into half-guard where he continues to grind at Artur, who now has a bloody nose. Nagata tries to transition to north/south, and then gets a front headlock to deliver some knees to the head before they come back to their feet. Oumakhanov swings some strikes, landing with a front kick, and then he gets a takedown and passes to half-guard. He tries to mount, but Nagata gets a reversal and ends up in top position again. Again Nagata is able to keep top position, albeit without doing much damage. He lands some flailing punches, but doesn’t seem to hurt Oumakhanov, although he keeps top position to end out the fight.
Judges all score it for Katsuhiko Nagata, who was able to use his wrestling to control and grind out the decision over the Russian. Fight sucked for the most part though as neither man did anything standing and while they hit a couple of decent reversals, there was very little done in the way of damage, and neither guy attempted any submissions or looked close to finishing.
Korean judoka Jung had made a semi-impressive debut at the Yarrenoka show, taking a fight with Shinya Aoki on short notice and putting up a spirited fight against the favoured Japanese submission artist before losing a decision. Ishida meanwhile, after a year on the shelf, had picked up his most impressive win to date on the same show, becoming the first man to defeat Gilbert Melendez. Needless to say, Ishida was the heavy favourite coming in, although the odds of it going to decision (as 13 of Ishida’s 18 wins have) must’ve been pretty high. On a side note, even the shitty HDNet overdubbing can’t quite hide the awesomeness of Ishida’s My Chemical Romance emo entrance, as you can slightly hear Welcome To The Black Parade under the generic music.
We begin and Ishida lands an early low kick, then circles around the Korean. Couple more low kicks land for Ishida as Jung follows him around the ring. Takedown from Ishida into the guard, and he stacks up to deliver a mini-slam. Ishida stands over him to kick the legs, but slips on one and this allows Jung to pop back up to his feet. Low kick from Ishida but Jung counters with a right, and then tries a flying...well, I don’t know what it was, but Ishida ducks it and Jung ends up on his back. Ishida goes down into the guard and Jung tries an armbar, hammer fisting Ishida’s head too, but Ishida avoids it and remains on top. Ishida lays there for a bit doing pretty much nothing, then stands up to kick at the legs before the ref calls Jung to his feet. Good low kick from Ishida and he slips to his back on a high kick, but as Jung comes forward Ishida puts him on his back again. Jung goes for some sort of neck crank submission from the guard, but it’s nowhere close to getting him to tap and Ishida easily works free. This is the definition of lay and pray as Ishida is doing nothing on top outside of the odd punch and stacking up now and then. Ref brings them back to their feet and Ishida lands some low kicks and the odd jab, before getting a single leg to guard. Jung looks for a triangle, but he can’t get it locked up and Ishida stands over him for a moment before dropping back into the guard. More of the same as the round ends.
Second round and Jung continues to stalk forward and eat leg kicks from Ishida. Telegraphed single leg still manages to put the Korean on his back in the guard, and again Ishida stands to kick at the legs before dropping back into the guard. Couple of hammer fists land for Ishida but the action is still minimal here. Ref breaks them up and restarts them standing, but Ishida gets the takedown again practically right away. More of the same as Ishida does nothing from the top, then stands and kicks the legs until the ref brings Jung up. Jung keeps chasing forward, but finds himself taken down again and Ishida continues to pepper him with short punches in the guard. Jung goes for a triangle, but Ishida easily postures out and holds the Korean down for the remainder of the fight.
Judges give it to Ishida but the whole fight nearly put me to sleep. Basically Ishida landed a couple of leg kicks, got a takedown, laid there, stood, kicked the legs, and waited for the ref to bring Jung up. Wash, rinse, repeat. One of the dullest fights I’ve seen in a long time and to be honest I’m bored of Ishida and his endless decision wins at this stage.
It was a huge surprise when it was announced that Cro Cop was going back to Japan with DREAM, as although he’d lost two of three fights in the UFC it was expected that he’d try to rebuild himself there in 2008. For him to head to DREAM was almost an admission of failure in some fans eyes, and personally I was disappointed that we hadn’t seen Mirko against UFC fighters like Couture or even Sylvia, etc. Naturally after two losses on the bounce DREAM wanted to rebuild him, and so he was thrown a bone in the form of Mizuno, a guy who had been destroyed in the past by both Assuerio and Thiago Silva.
Mizuno presses forward to open but takes a low kick right away. Few weak punches land for Mizuno as Mirko basically stalks him and it looks like he’s waiting for his time to strike. Mizuno gets to the clinch, but a big knee stuns him and then Cro Cop separates and KILLS HIM DEAD with a combination of punches.
Basically your typical Mirko Cro Cop PRIDE-style squash. Mizuno is up there with Dos Caras Jr. and Yoshihisa Yamamoto in terms of Mirko’s worst victims. I guess they wanted to get Mirko back on the winning track, but this was pointless; they could’ve booked Cro Cop against a grappling dummy and had as competitive a bout. Post-fight Mirko gets on the mic and gives credit to Mizuno for taking the fight, claiming bigger-name fighters refused it. He then says DREAM feels like home to him and now he’s ready for a better opponent next time. I should hope so!
Philadelphia native Alvarez had seen some success at 170lbs, knocking out the likes of Aaron Riley, but a loss to the much larger Nick Thompson ended up triggering a move to Lightweight, which is really a much better fit for him. He’d already won a couple of fights at his new weight, but this was his first big test there, as Chute Boxe’s Dida had made it to the finals of the 2007 Hero’s tournament before being put away by JZ. In fact, on paper this was arguably the toughest fight of the tournament to call.
First round starts and Alvarez shoots on a single pretty early, getting Dida down. He looks to pass the guard, as Dida scrambles from his back looking for a way back to his feet. Full guard from Dida and he kicks Alvarez away, so Eddie stands and kicks at the legs. Dida comes back to his feet, and they exchange punches briefly before settling down. Another exchange follows and Alvarez looks rocked, and a follow-up from Dida drops him! Eddie pops up into a clinch and manages to get Dida down to guard, and then looks to pass into half-guard. Alvarez begins to land with some punches from the top, but they come back to standing quite quickly. Dida begins to swing pretty wildly, but Alvarez crowds him into the corner for a moment. They back out and now Alvarez lands with a pair of uppercuts and gets the better of a trade! Nice low kick from Eddie and he looks for a takedown, getting Dida down to guard. Alvarez passes to half-guard pretty swiftly and lands with some shots to the head. Side mount for Alvarez now and he controls the Brazilian and lands some short punches. It looks like he’s stepping over for an armbar but Dida rolls to avoid. More punches land for Alvarez and he looks to spin to take the back, but Dida stays active, only to end up mounted. Alvarez really takes over now, landing some clean blows that look to have Dida hurt. Alvarez keeps slugging away on the ground and although Dida’s pushing off with his legs, Eddie keeps throwing them aside to drop punches. Mount from Alvarez again and he keeps landing shot after shot, and Dida isn’t really defending. Eddie looks for the armbar again, but then decides to just bomb at the head from side control, before moving back to mount. More shots land and Dida’s doing nothing to defend, so the ref calls it there.
Alvarez put in a storming performance in that fight, coming back from an early storm standing from Dida to overpower him and just smash him on the ground. Alvarez’s positional awareness was fantastic as he was constantly moving and never let Dida get comfortable on the bottom. Probably the best fight of the show thus far too.
Kawajiri, like his teammate Ishida, hadn’t seen action from between 12/31/06 and 12/31/07, as after the PRIDE collapse he didn’t go to the US for whatever reason, nor did he return to his old stomping ground of Shooto. On NYE though he’d beaten the always-tough Luiz Azeredo, and coming into this he was considered one of the favourites to take the GP. Gill is one of those guys with a really middling record, winning some matches he ought to lose and losing some he ought to have won. On a hilarious note, like Cyrille Diabate before him, he isn’t known by his proper name in Japan. Just his nickname, ‘Black Mamba’. Which is sort of cool in a way. I figured Kawajiri might have problems with Mamba’s reach early, but would still find a way to pull out the win.
We get underway and they circle before Kawajiri clips him with an overhand right. Takedown attempt from the Crusher and he looks for a single leg. Gill defends momentarily but Kawajiri switches to a double and plants him on the ground. He works to pass pretty quickly, getting into half-guard, but Mamba does a good job of working back to a full guard. Mamba tries some upkicks as Kawajiri stands to pass, causing Kawajiri to slip, and then they come back to their feet with Kawajiri looking for a bodylock. He tries to get Gill down again, but the Black Mamba continues to defend. It looks like Kawajiri’s leaving his head wide open for a guillotine, but Mamba doesn’t really go for it. Kawajiri continues to attempt the takedown, but Gill’s defense is looking really impressive so far. Finally Kawajiri manages to rip the base from underneath him and gets him on his back in a butterfly guard. He muscles his way into half-guard and then slips into side mount, but Gill lands a good knee from the bottom position. Gill manages to kick him off and throws an upkick, but Kawajiri scrambles and takes the back, and Mamba stands with Kawajiri on his back. Kawajiri looks for the rear naked choke, but Gill manages to throw him off to the side and ends up in top position in the Crusher’s guard. Kawajiri looks to work rubber guard, as Gill chops at the body with some short punches. Kawajiri reverses back to his feet and looks for another single leg, then he drops really low for a double, but still struggles to get Mamba down. Gill tries a switch, but that allows Kawajiri to connect his hands and get a double leg to the ground. Dull fight thus far. Kawajiri looks to pass again and works into half-guard, then works his leg free into side control. North/south for Kawajiri but Gill scrambles and works to his feet, giving his back in the process. Kawajiri tries to drag him back down and manages it, taking the back with both hooks again. It looks like he’s got the rear naked choke locked up, but then he switches to an arm triangle and it looks deep. Gill somehow manages to turn over and gives his back again as he stands, but Kawajiri gets another takedown to half-guard. With seconds to go he passes to side mount, but the round ends before he can do any damage.
Round Two begins with Gill landing a push kick to the body and a right hand. Nice low kick from Mamba too. Kawajiri shoots on a single leg and gets him down though, but Mamba gets a full guard. Gill explodes to his feet and Kawajiri immediately tries to take him down again, but eats a knee this time. He seems okay and keeps going for the takedown, as Gill looks to lock up a kimura standing. Kawajiri drops to his knees and keeps going for the single, then switches to a double and drags Mamba down. Into half-guard for Kawajiri and then the full mount, but Gill gives his back and manages to shrug him off. Kawajiri immediately looks for the takedown again, ripping the legs from under Mamba and putting him on his back once more. Gill tries to strike from his back, elbowing the collar bone, but Kawajiri seems fine and works to pass the guard. Into the half-guard and then side mount again, but there’s only a minute left to go. Kawajiri moves to north/south but doesn’t throw any strikes, and the fight ends with Gill kicking Kawajiri away and then going for a triangle as he re-enters the guard.
Unanimous decision for Tatsuya Kawajiri, but it was as if he’d decided to fight just like his teammate Ishida for the night as all he did was take Gill down and control him, only going for a couple of submissions and not really breaking out his usually brutal ground-and-pound. Gill had little to no offense, being stuck defending for the majority of the fight, and while he did a decent job from that standpoint it doesn’t win you anything. Horribly dull fight, probably the worst I’ve ever seen from Kawajiri in fact who is usually exciting to watch.
This was obviously the most anticipated fight of the opening round, as both men had been on serious rolls coming in. Aoki hadn’t lost at Lightweight and had beaten the likes of Joachim Hansen and Jason Black at the weight, while JZ had taken both the 2006 and 2007 Hero’s Lightweight tournaments, beating Caol Uno, Andre Dida, and Vitor Ribeiro amongst others. At this point in time JZ was still ranked by many as the top Lightweight in the world in fact. Another point to note – this was originally scheduled for the Yarrenoka show, but JZ pulled out with a knee injury and Aoki ended up fighting Bu Kyung Jung instead. And with this just three months later, I think you have to question the condition of JZ’s knee. To be fair he looks as confident as ever though. Huge crowd pop for Aoki who really seems to have taken off as a crowd favourite coming into this.
We get underway and JZ pushes forward as both men look tentative early on. Low kick and Aoki slips to his back, but JZ wants nothing to do with the guard and stands off, and the ref brings Aoki back up. Body kick from Aoki is blocked as JZ continues to push forward. Aoki tries the kick again but this time JZ catches it and counters with a left hand, causing Aoki to drop to his back. JZ still doesn’t want to go into the guard though, and he stands over Aoki before dropping a left through the guard and backing out. Aoki stands back up and JZ comes forward, avoiding an attempt from Aoki at leaping to guard. Ref brings Aoki up again and JZ comes forward and avoids a clinch attempt. Wild high kick misses for JZ and Aoki shoots on a double leg, but JZ blocks to avoid and elbows the side of the back. Ref calls time and Aoki looks hurt, holding the back of his head, but JZ protests that the elbows hit the shoulders, not the back of the head. Replay seems to confirm JZ’s side of the story but Aoki is still down. We get about four or five replays and really, I can’t understand why Aoki’s claiming it hit the back of the head as it clearly didn’t.
After a ton of deliberation they come to a decision, and decide to throw out the fight, declaring it a No Contest as Aoki is unable to continue. Aw, come on. Doctor gets on the mic and claims the elbow hit a nerve which made Aoki’s arm numb. Trigg isn’t buying it at all and I really don’t know whether I am either. The elbow didn’t even look like it connected cleanly and I think maybe Aoki was looking for a way out. Blah. Well, that was an anticlimax.
-Post-fight all of the other winners from the Grand Prix enter the ring, as Trigg speculates that Aoki and JZ should rematch at DREAM 2 to decide who goes through to the next round (which is indeed what happened). So we’ve got Hansen, Buscape, Nagata, Ishida, Alvarez, Kawajiri and Uno in the next round, with the winner of Aoki-JZ to join them.
Well, DREAM as a promotion might’ve picked up some steam now, but this show was a horrible way for them to start. A bunch of squashes around a lot of dull, slow-paced fights, and really the only good fights on the card were Hansen-Boku and Alvarez-Dida which weren’t exactly great either to be honest. Sure, it’s fun to see Cro Cop crush a tomato can, but we’ve all seen that before in PRIDE, and Nagata-Oumakhanov, Ishida-Jung and Kawajiri-Gill were outright awful. Add in the horribly anticlimactic main event ending in a no-contest and you have a poor show indeed, reminiscent in fact of the opening round of PRIDE’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix. Recommendation to avoid.
Best Fight: Alvarez-Dida
Worst Fight: Ishida-Jung
Overall Rating: **
UFC: 94-100, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.