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DREAM 6 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on July 30, 2009, 3:43 PM

DREAM 6

09/23/08
Saitama, Japan


-Your hosts are Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten. They discuss the final four of the Middleweight Grand Prix – Jacare, Galesic, Manhoef and Mousasi, and then we go backstage to Ron Kruck to talk about the co-main event of Alistair Overeem vs. Mirko Cro Cop.

-Fighter introduction follows and the pyro display is brilliantly over the top.

Middleweight Grand Prix: Reserve Bout: Andrews Nakahara vs Yoon Dong Sik

Pretty decent reserve bout here although I would’ve preferred to have seen Mayhem Miller involved somehow. Nakahara had been eliminated by Kazushi Sakuraba in the opening round in what was his first pro MMA bout, while Yoon was decisioned by Gegard Mousasi in the quarters. On paper due to the sheer experience difference this fight favoured the Korean judoka. Nakahara has K1 legend Francisco Filho in his corner, and Yoon is sporting his gi in this bout.

First round begins and Nakahara lands a low kick before Yoon looks to close the distance. Nakahara manages to avoid him and lands a high kick, but Yoon grabs hold of him in a clinch. The Korean drops for a takedown and desperately tries to muscle Nakahara down, before pulling guard. Nakahara manages to stand free and Yoon stays on his back for a moment before the ref stands him up. Combo misses for Nakahara and Yoon looks to close the distance again, but takes a low kick. Clinch again and Yoon looks for a trip, but Nakahara backs out. Right hand from Yoon and he clinches again, but Nakahara breaks off with a knee. Couple of wild punches miss for Yoon, but he closes the distance and tackles Nakahara to the ground. Nakahara surprisingly goes for an oma plata and it actually looks locked up, but Yoon smartly pushes off the ropes to get free. Right hand from Yoon down into the guard and he looks to pass, working into half-guard. Yoon works into full mount and keeps a low, tight base, looking to lock up some sort of gi choke. Bas calls it the Ezekiel choke in fact, the same one that Akiyama used to choke out Shibata on the last show. Kenny says Yoon’s trying to win for the fifth time in a row. Did he forget the loss to Mousasi last time out or something? Anyway, he can’t seem to get the choke locked up properly and ends up letting it go. He’s still in full mount though and so he tries for it again, then lands a couple of ineffective punches. Yoon just has zero power in these shots. He tries the Ezekiel choke for a third time, but Nakahara works his arm in and then escapes out the back door! Yoon stays on his back and the Brazilian kicks at the legs before the ref calls him up. Couple of high kicks miss for Nakahara but he lands with a nice inside leg kick. Wild axe kick narrowly misses but pops the crowd big. Yoon eats a knee but manages to close in for a double leg, but Nakahara sprawls and delivers some knees to the head to end the round.

Second round and Nakahara opens with a low kick. They trade some wild punches and Nakahara drops him with a combo! Yoon turtles up and then turns to guard, but Nakahara pours it on and keeps pounding away, and Yoon isn’t defending so the ref calls it there.

Well, as far as karate guys in MMA go, Lyoto Machida he’s not, but this was a decent win for Nakahara considering it was only his second MMA bout. He did well to get out of the second round considering he spent a substantial time under the full mount, and in the second round once Yoon decided to strike with him, he put the judoka away pretty quickly. Definitely some potential there, but only if he’s brought along slowly, which is doubtful in Japan if I’m honest. Pretty dull fight for the most part though.

Middleweight Grand Prix: Semi-Finals: Gegard Mousasi vs Melvin Manhoef

Apparently Mousasi had been asking for Manhoef in the semis and thus his wish was granted. Both fighters are introduced as fighting out of the Netherlands, although Mousasi isn’t a Dutchman, he’s actually an Armenian by way of Iran. Standing, despite Mousasi’s genuine skill there, this still favoured Melvin, although if Mousasi could get it to the ground the likelihood was that he would submit the former Cage Rage champ. My pick was Mousasi to submit Manhoef early. Melvin’s entrance still cracks me up as his trainer rants and raves at him on the stage. I just have this idea in my head that it’s like the scene from Cool Runnings. You know, “I SEE PRIDE! I SEE POWER!” etc. His cornermen are waving an American Top Team t-shirt, so perhaps he trained with ATT for this one. Side note, but HDNet’s video game-style ratings for the fighters in each area are dope and are something UFC ought to knock off some time.

We begin and both men come out relatively tentatively before Mousasi shoots for a takedown. Manhoef works to defend it and manages to get back up using a whizzer, but Mousasi is relentless and gets him down again. Mousasi takes his back and tries to lock up a body triangle, but Melvin turns over into the mount. Reversal from Manhoef puts him on top in Mousasi’s guard, but Mousasi locks up a triangle from the bottom right away. It’s locked up but Melvin STANDS UP AND POWERBOMBS HIM! That only makes the triangle tighter though and Manhoef’s forced to tap out there.

Fight went pretty much exactly how I expected it to, as Mousasi did the smart thing and quickly took Melvin down, and from there the kickboxer was outclassed. Good win for Mousasi and outside of taking the slam, he goes into the final round unscathed.

Middleweight Grand Prix: Semi-Finals: Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs Zelg Galesic

And it’s a Brazilian against a Croatian in the other semi. Despite Galesic riding a three-fight winning streak I couldn’t see him beating Jacare here, as despite having the decided advantage standing, Jacare is probably the best guy in the world on the ground – the area Galesic was weakest in – and his takedowns are nothing to sneeze at either. Jacare actually was my pick to win the whole tournament.

Round One and they throw some feints before Jacare catches a kick and slams the Croatian down to guard. Jacare works to pass and quickly gets to side mount, and Zelg is in trouble already. Few short punches land for the Brazilian and then he slides his leg across to full mount. Galesic rolls him over, but literally the second he gets top position Jacare slaps on a straight armbar and taps him out.

Unbelievably slick stuff from Jacare. It didn’t even look like he was going for the armbar, more like he was setting up a triangle, but bam, there it was. Replay shows it was like the odd armbar Jeremy Horn got on Chael Sonnen at UFC 60. Almost an identical fight to the last one in that Jacare, like Mousasi, took zero damage and now both men go into the final completely fresh for the most part.

-Ron Kruck interviews Zelg Galesic backstage and he’s obviously disappointed, but he puts Jacare over as an amazing grappler and admits he didn’t see the armbar coming as it was an unusual variant. He’s picking Mousasi to win the finals though as he thinks Jacare doesn’t like to be hit.

Hideo Tokoro vs Atsushi Yamamoto

Tokoro was of course coming off two strong wins in DREAM, one of which had been the uber-exciting match against Darren Uyenoyama at DREAM 4. This was Yamamoto’s debut, and I don’t know all that much about him outside of the fact that he’s a teammate of his namesake Kid Yamamoto at Krazy Bee, and had mainly fought in Shooto before this.

They get underway and Tokoro lands a couple of straight punches from range. They circle around exchanging punches, before Yamamoto decks him with a one-two! He looks to follow up with punches on the ground but Tokoro ties him up and then looks to control him using the rubber guard. Good recovery from Tokoro because he was hit hard. Tokoro goes back to a regular guard and looks for an armbar, but Yamamoto postures out to avoid. Tokoro almost gets a great reversal to take the back, but they wind up standing and Yamamoto pops him with a jab. They continue to circle and exchange strikes, with Yamamoto landing the better shots. His jab especially is looking good. Flying knee to the body lands for the Krazy Bee fighter and he follows with a one-two. Tokoro is being outstruck badly here and I have no idea why he’s not trying to get it to the ground. He does fire back and they clinch, where Tokoro tries to jump into a flying armbar, but he doesn’t get it and Yamamoto ends up in top position in the guard. Few stiff punches to the side of the head land for Yamamoto. He decides to bring it back to the feet and the standing exchange continues with Yamamoto pleasing Bas with the left hook to the body. Good right hand to answer from Tokoro. Exchange continues and Tokoro gets staggered badly by another one-two, and he’s sporting a bloody nose now too. Tokoro tries to grab the plum clinch for some knees but fails, and he’s very bloody now. Another one-two snaps Tokoro’s head back but he hangs tough. Big left hand lands for Yamamoto and Tokoro tries a somersault kick and ends up on his back in guard. Short punches from the top from Yamamoto end the round out.

Final round and they circle to open with Yamamoto dropping his hands now. Tokoro looks more aggressive and lands with a combo, but Yamamoto bloodies his nose with a jab. Spinning kick glances off Yamamoto and Tokoro ends up on his back in the guard, and in fact it looks like the glancing kick opened a cut on Yamamoto’s hairline. Referee brings them up after a lull, and the doctors clean up Tokoro’s face and check that he can see straight. They let him continue and actually restart on the ground; obviously the ref didn’t call a stand-up after all. They come back to their feet right away though and now Yamamoto gets a single leg to half-guard. Tokoro looks to roll for a kimura but he’s not in the right position to pull it off. Tokoro does manage to get back to guard though. Yamamoto stands back up and they exchange into a clinch where Yamamoto forces him to the ground again. Body-head combinations for Yamamoto on the ground but Tokoro reverses and gets on top, looking for an armbar! It looks like he’s got it locked in and Yamamoto is in trouble, but he manages to turn on top, still trapped in the hold. Good defensive job from Yamamoto as he prevents Tokoro from straightening the arm out, and then he lands a few hammer fists to the face and the time expires before Tokoro can finish the armbar.

Got to be Yamamoto’s decision despite Tokoro ending stronger with the close armbar attempt. Judges all see the fight for Atsushi Yamamoto. This was a pretty solid fight if nothing spectacular, as Yamamoto showed some skill both standing and on the ground, and while Tokoro wasn’t really able to hurt Yamamoto standing, he did come close to finishing it on the ground late in the second.

-Ron Kruck interviews Melvin Manhoef and Melvin’s not really happy that Mousasi said he’d stand with him, but then took him to the ground right away, saying he didn’t have balls, but he won fair and square and it’s his own fault that he didn’t defend on the ground better.

Hayato ‘Mach’ Sakurai vs Kuniyoshi Hironaka

Pretty interesting fight here between two perennial contenders at WW, although both men appeared to have seen better days in the period leading to this fight and Sakurai had been tapped out by David Baron in a huge upset in his previous fight at a Shooto event. Actually I’m surprised they didn’t make this for the DREAM Welterweight Title, as the rumor coming in had been a Sakurai-Nick Diaz fight to crown the champion. As it goes Diaz had prior commitments with Elite XC, and so they ended up doing another GP to decide the first champ.

Round One and both men look tentative, missing with their early striking attempts. Hironaka ducks under a right hand and looks for a takedown, but Sakurai stuffs it and they clinch up. Hironaka tries a bodylock and gets Sakurai down to the guard, passing into half-guard swiftly. Sakurai doesn’t really look in trouble from his back and manoeuvres back to guard, but Hironaka postures up from the top and lands a punch before passing back to half-guard. Leglock attempt from Sakurai but Hironaka stands free and they come back to their feet. Good left to the body from Sakurai. They continue to exchange strikes and Sakurai seems to be getting the better of it, landing a couple of nice leg kicks particularly. Nice combo rocks Hironaka but he recovers quickly. Heavy low kick lands to follow a one-two and Sakurai really seems to be finding his rhythm now. Into the clinch and they exchange short strikes, but the referee separates them. Low kick attempt from Sakurai causes him to slip to his back, and Hironaka quickly takes top position with Mach going to a butterfly guard. Hironaka looks to pass, but Sakurai does a good job to retain guard. Some decent punches land for Hironaka from inside the guard, and then he stands to deliver a left hand. Spinning stomp lands for Hironaka but the ref steps in and calls time, giving a warning to Hironaka for the illegal move. They restart standing and Mach takes over with some combos, but Hironaka fires back with a right hand to the body. Hironaka closes the distance and looks to take him down again, but Sakurai stuffs it and goes back to landing combos, hitting Hironaka with another heavy leg kick. Sakurai’s low kicks are brutal and Hironaka has to be having Thiago Alves flashbacks by now! Round ends with more combos from Mach.

Second round and Hironaka catches a kick and hits a double leg to the guard. Sakurai ends up pinned in the corner and Hironaka stands over him and lands some punches to the head, reaching through the ropes to deliver them. Unsurprisingly the ref brings them back to the center of the ring, and Hironaka drops down into half-guard. Butterfly guard from Sakurai and he tries to roll for a leglock, but Hironaka avoids and grabs a front facelock. Sakurai escapes to his feet, but right away Hironaka looks to bring him down. Sakurai stuffs this takedown attempt and lands an overhand right. They exchange some low kicks and then Sakurai lands with a pair of left hooks. Takedown from Sakurai now and he puts Hironaka on his back in guard, but lets him up on a guard pass attempt. Hironaka takes a glancing high kick as he stands, but he looks fine. Good left to the body from Sakurai. Exchange continues with both men landing, but Mach is definitely catching him with the stronger shots. Takedown attempt from Hironaka is easily avoided. They continue to strike, and Sakurai catches him with some really nice combos, snapping his head back on a couple of occasions. Pair of knees land from Mach too. Finally with seconds remaining a left hook drops Hironaka, but Sakurai can’t finish it before the bell sounds.

Judges all score it for Hayato Sakurai, no surprise there as he picked Hironaka apart on the feet for the majority of the fight, and on the ground it was largely even. Hironaka did land some shots of his own and hung tough, only being dropped in the dying seconds, but Sakurai outstruck him from the beginning and landed some particularly vicious leg kicks. This was a very good showing for Mach to bounce back from a rotten loss and when he’s on, he’s still one of the more dangerous fighters in the world. Decent fight overall.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Masanori Tonooka

Yay, yet another squash for Akiyama on paper as Tonooka was bringing in a mighty 1-1 record. Thank God Akiyama’s gone to the UFC now where he’ll be tested against legitimate competition rather than tomato cans like this. At least his entrance is epic here. I will never get bored of seeing the whole Akiyama entourage holding hands and kneeling to the sound of Con Te Partiro. Full gi for Akiyama for this fight.

First round and it’s so weird to see as Akiyama’s white gi almost blends in with the white ring mat! Tonooka looks to strike but Akiyama easily avoids most of it, and then lands an uppercut into the clinch. Easy hip throw to the ground and Akiyama lands in side mount. Pure control from Akiyama from the top, as Tonooka looks lost from his back and gets trapped in a crucifix. Few punches land for Akiyama and then he sets up for an armbar but can’t quite get it. Full mount now and he lands some hammer fists, then goes for the armbar again, but Tonooka slips out and gives his back. Akiyama attempts to roll for the armbar, but Tonooka pops out the back door and stands! Akiyama gets right back on him though and clinches, tripping him back down to side mount. Full mount follows and this time he gets the armbar locked up for the tapout.

Squash match but boy did Akiyama take FOREVER to put this guy away or what? Honestly he’s one of the worst guys to watch against tomato cans as he never seems to squash them quickly!

Shinya Aoki vs Todd Moore

Aoki had been stopped by Joachim Hansen at DREAM 4 and saw his dream (no pun intended) of becoming the LW champion go up in smoke, so I guess FEG wanted to throw him a bone in the form of an easy fight here. Moore had won his first nine bouts, but had lost his previous two, one to John Alessio and then one to Shane Roller in the WEC via guillotine choke.

We begin and Moore pushes forward looking to strike, but Aoki throws a couple of kicks and then whiffs on an early takedown attempt. Clinch and Aoki takes his back standing, hopping on with both hooks locked in. Moore remains on his feet but Aoki pulls him down and goes for the rear naked choke, then just squeezes and twists the head to the side a bit and that’s enough for the tapout. Weird. Bas points out that because Moore was in the seated position he couldn’t move his hips to relieve the pressure on the neck crank, and that’s why he was forced to tap.

Well, I hope Akiyama was taking note – that’s how you squash overmatched opposition – in like a minute as opposed to taking seven!

Alistair Overeem vs Mirko Cro Cop

This one had been in the making since Overeem called out Mirko following his debut at DREAM 3. Like with the earlier WW match I’m surprised they didn’t make this fight for the DREAM Heavyweight Title, but I guess they don’t want a HW champion yet as they still haven’t crowned one four shows later. Overeem had looked pretty great in his last few fights, while Mirko still had the stench of his UFC run surrounding him, so I was picking somewhat of a changing of the guard here and went with Overeem via TKO. Pre-fight Fedor Emelianenko presents both fighters with flowers. Overeem is far, far bigger than Cro Cop. Dude is STACKED.

First round gets started and both men press forward with nothing landing right away. They clinch and Overeem lands a knee and then outright tosses Mirko to the ground. Surprising to see him get Cro Cop down that easily. Cro Cop goes to full guard and looks to tie Alistair up, but Overeem manages to break free and lands with some heavy punches, particularly to the body. There’s a cut opened over the left eye of Cro Cop now too, and the ref calls time to have the doctors check it over. It’s not a massive cut though so they let it go, restarting in the guard of Cro Cop. Overeem goes back to working with punches and hammer fists, but as he stands to attempt to pass, Mirko kicks him away and the ref calls the Croatian to his feet. Left body kick lands for Mirko but as he tries the left high kick Overeem catches it and kicks his right leg from under him, dropping him to his back. Alistair gets back on top in the guard and goes to work with hammer fists again, opening the cut back up and now there’s quite a lot of blood coming from it. Referee decides to bring them back up when the action slows down, and they restart and Overeem clinches and lands a knee to the body. Cro Cop claims a low blow but the ref doesn’t take it and Alistair clinches again, landing some really heavy knees to the body. This time though one lands blatantly low and the ref calls time. While he’s recovering they show K1 ‘bad boy’ Badr Hari in the crowd – more in him in a moment.

Cro Cop recovers after a minute or so and they restart, with Overeem clinching and landing another knee. This time Mirko blocks the takedown and they separate, but Overeem clinches again and goes after the body with knees once more. Again though, a knee lands low and Mirko buckles before Alistair slams him down. Ref spotted the low knee though and calls time, and this time Cro Cop looks to be in serious pain, on his knees and dry heaving. Last time I saw a guy heaving like that was Alessio Sakara in his UFC debut, so this isn’t looking good. Mirko is literally SURROUNDED by doctors here. After a couple of minutes Bas tells us that Cro Cop’s corner just told him his right testicle has gone inside him. Good God. Kenny’s like, this fight is over. Well, you don’t say. Still, they try to let Mirko recover for another few minutes before finally a DREAM official gets on the mic and tells us it’s a No Contest.

Talk about an anticlimax. I guess these things happen in MMA and it was just an unfortunate turn of events – it wasn’t like Overeem was aiming for the groin – but even so, it’s horribly frustrating when it happens. As far as the fight goes, Overeem was absolutely dominating Cro Cop which was very impressive, even if Mirko realistically is way past his prime at this stage. Sure, Alistair didn’t have him on the verge of being stopped or anything but Mirko had no offense to speak of, had been cut open badly, and was taking some serious shots to the body. Basically Overeem did everything but take the win here, which has to be disappointing for him. I expected Overeem to take the inevitable rematch in 2009, but of course Cro Cop ended up going back to the UFC and it never came to pass.

-Post-fight Overeem apologises to the crowd for the ending, saying he wanted to finish Mirko cleanly by KO or submission. He still wants to be the #1 fighter in DREAM though, and issues an open challenge. After this (although it’s not shown on the HDNet broadcast, you can hear it over the highlight package they play) Badr Hari enters the ring and basically cuts an abusive promo about MMA, saying all he’s seen tonight is a bunch of “hugging and kissing” and if the people want to see “real fights with real knockouts” they need to watch K1 kickboxing. He then challenges anyone from MMA, including Alistair or Mirko, to fight him under his rules, K1 rules. Of course Overeem accepted the challenge and ended up knocking Hari out under his own K1 rules on NYE. Funny how things turn out, hey.

Middleweight Grand Prix: Finals: Gegard Mousasi vs Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza

And so it’s all come down to this. As it goes, after Mousasi eliminated Denis Kang in the opening round this was probably the most predictable final match based on the line-up, especially after Jacare eliminated the biggest threat to Mousasi on paper (Mayhem Miller) in the quarter-finals. Great to see a tournament final with both men coming in largely unhurt from their earlier bouts, making it a fair fight, too. As with, well, all Ronaldo Jacare fights, he had the huge advantage on the ground while Mousasi likely had him outgunned standing. Despite Mousasi being the more well-rounded guy as he’s no slouch on the ground, I was taking Jacare by submission. Winner of course becomes the DREAM Middleweight champion.

Round One begins and Mousasi comes out with a low stance, clearly wary of the takedown. Low shot from Jacare and Mousasi avoids it initially, but the Brazilian goes for the takedown again and this time he secures a double leg and SLAMS Mousasi to the ground. Mousasi rolls to try to escape, but Jacare controls him and passes into half-guard. Jacare works to get his leg free, but Mousasi does a good job defensively. The Brazilian looks to land some strikes now, and stands to drop a big punch down....but Mousasi catches him on the way down with an upkick and KNOCKS HIM OUT COLD!~! Man, that happened so quickly you could barely see it.

Huge, huge win for Gegard Mousasi. A knockout from an upkick is mad rare, particularly one that knocks a guy totally out cold – Renzo Gracie over Oleg Taktarov back in the old days is the only one I can recall off the top of my head – and Mousasi connected with that one perfectly. Some fans called this an anticlimactic ending as the knockout blow happened almost too quickly to see, but come on – that was a highlight reel finish if I ever saw one, and you don’t get any more climactic than that. For a guy who is only 23 Mousasi has certainly developed into a hell of a fighter. I’m not sure about this move to 205lbs now, as he doesn’t look to be the biggest guy at 185lbs and certainly isn’t as big as the larger LHWs like Tito Ortiz or Forrest Griffin, but hey, Machida and Evans are #1 and #2 for me right now and they’re not huge 205lbers themselves. Mousasi is a young guy and if he can add lean muscle to his frame, well, he certainly has the raw talent to go places.

-Post-fight Galesic and Manhoef join Jacare and Mousasi for the presentations, with Mousasi collecting the DREAM Middleweight Title belt as well as the 2008 Grand Prix Title. Hilariously, what sounds like the music from the movie Dragonheart is playing in the background while all of this is going on. Where DREAM fished that from I have no idea. It took me a good ten minutes to work out where I’d heard it before, too. Show ends with a highlight reel of the night’s action.

Final Thoughts....

DREAM 6 got a bit of a bad rep online mainly because of the way the last two fights ended, but while Overeem-Cro Cop was definitely a horrible, unfortunate finish, I don’t get the hate on Jacare-Mousasi at all as for me it was one of the best knockouts of the whole year. Granted, there’s no classics like Alvarez-Kawajiri here which keeps the show from being up there with DREAM 3 and 5 as the best shows the company has produced, but with no truly bad fights (Akiyama’s squash is a bit dull and so is the opener, but they’re not outright horrid) it’d be unfair to slam this one. Plus, the Middleweight GP had three exciting, short bouts with fun finishes and we ended up with no controversy and a legitimate champion crowned in Mousasi. Can’t complain about that. Thumbs up.

Best Fight: Mousasi-Jacare or Mousasi-Manhoef (for the finishes alone)
Worst Fight: Akiyama-Tonooka

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 94-100, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
DREAM: 7-10.
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com




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