Oh, the joy of a fight like this! Note the sarcasm, I canít stand Minowaman or his waste-of-time freakshow fights. Case in point: Ambriz is about 300lbs and hasnít won a meaningful fight in years. Schiavello does compare him to a giant version of former WCW wrestler Disco Inferno though which is hilarious.
Weíre underway and Minowa quickly shoots in, but Ambriz sprawls and stuffs it, getting on top in half-guard for a few clubbing blows. He passes into side mount early before casually putting himself back into the half-guard for no good reason. Minowa decides to give his back and looks to stand, but Ambriz quickly lifts him up like a small child and slams him back down, landing some punches from behind. Minowa rolls back over into half-guard and now Ambriz goes for an arm triangle choke. Schiavelloís saying itíd be a shock for him to win and that there was no betting line for this fight even, but to me that suggests that bookies think itíll probably be worked. Minowa turns into the turtle position and then rolls for a leglock, but Ambriz avoids it. Fantastic action, says Schiavello. Where? Minowa looks to roll again but Ambriz is having none of it and continues to control him from behind, landing the odd punch to the side of the head. Ambriz has total control but why he hasnít looked to put hooks in or anything I donít know. Either he completely sucks or this could be a work. Back up for Minowa but another suplex puts him back down and Ambriz continues to pepper him with punches. A guy the size of Ambriz should be able to kill with his punches, but he doesnít look like heís putting anything into them. This absolutely sucks. Ref breaks them off despite Ambriz dominating. Yellow card to Minowaman.
They circle with no contact and then clinch for a moment before breaking off again. Left hook lands for Minowa and somehow rocks Ambriz, who looks pretty gassed actually. They trade some shitty punches and Minowa is catching him with the left hook easily at this stage as Jimmy is all burned out. Inside leg kick lands for Minowa and thereís one minute to go. Couple more kicks land as Ambriz is depriving the front row of their oxygen. Round ends shortly after. Well, thereís ten minutes of my life Iíll never get back.
Second round and a looping left hook lands for Minowa. Couple more hooks miss this time. Ambriz keeps ambling forward but heís doing nothing. They clinch for a second before breaking off. Another crappy trade follows and Ambriz then backs him into a corner and goes for the takedown. Minowa ends up on his back in half-guard before Ambriz surprisingly passes to mount and then looks to take the back...but itís obviously time to go to the finish as Minowaman inexplicably reverses him and takes top position. Couple of hammer fists and then he leans back, gets the toehold, and of course Ambriz taps there.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first candidate for the Worst Fight of 2010. Absolute waste of time for everyone involved and quite possibly a work, or maybe Ambriz took a dive. Who cares? My dream match for Minowa would be Rousimar Palhares, if only for the irony of seeing Toquinho tear the idiotís knee up with a heel hook of his own.
Karate expert Kikuno had looked really good against Eddie Alvarez in October before succumbing to an arm triangle choke, while UFC veteran Hironaka had fought on the same card, getting largely picked apart by Koreaís Won Sik Park before Parkís corner ended up throwing the towel in due to some sort of eye injury. Both of these guys are pretty solid so this was decent matchmaking from DREAM. Side note, but itís crazy to look back now and think that a lot of hardcore fans picked Hironaka to take out Jon Fitch when he made his UFC debut in 2006! Although to be fair he was really well-regarded at that point.
We get underway and Kikuno comes out throwing like a madman, landing a quick combo and then a kick to the body. Hironaka gets a clinch and they exchange some knees to the body before the ref calls a break. Kikunoís stance is really odd but it does seem to work for him as he lands a right hand and a glancing body kick. They clinch again and muscle for position before Kikuno breaks off. Good straight right from Hironaka but Kikuno answers with another body kick and follows with a BIG RIGHT HAND that turns out Hironakaís lights! Awesome finish.
Well, I donít think Kikuno would do very well against the top guys in the division but he sure is fun to watch. Right hand snapped Hironakaís head right back and he was out before he hit the ground. Beautiful stuff.
Really good fight, this one. Maeda was coming off an impressive win over Chase Beebe at DREAM 12 where he looked really excellent. Escovedo meanwhile was a guy I always enjoyed back in the pre-Zuffa days of WEC and it surprised me that they never brought him back when you think the only guys he lost to during that stage were Urijah Faber and Antonio Banuelos, and obviously heís a natural 135lber. To be fair though he did have a ton of health problems (a staph infection that left him partially paralysed) that kept him out of action from late 2006 to mid 2009.
Round One begins and they trade some strikes at a pretty fast pace early, with neither man really landing anything of note. Big right uppercut lands for Maeda and has Cole hurt, and the Japanese fighter closes in with a flurry but canít follow up. Kick lands for Escovedo and Maeda calls time for a poke to the eye, didnít see it but the ref steps in so itís obviously legit. They restart and Maeaa blocks a head kick and comes forward with another flurry. Another one backs Escovedo up but doesnít land and Cole spins him off. Good leg kick from Cole as the action slows down a little. Right to the body and an uppercut from Maeda. Couple of combos miss from Maeda and Cole answers back with a right low kick and a LEFT HEAD KICK THAT FOLDS MAEDA UP!~! Holy shit, Marius Zaromskis eat your heart out.
Replay shows it was actually the foot that connected with Maedaís jaw rather than the shin, but who cares really? Maeda got knocked stiff, insane stuff. Great win for Cole Escovedo which is nice to see after all his problems and I wish him nothing but success in Japan. Give us Escovedo-Tokoro next (the cameras keep showing Tokoro at ringside) and Iíll be a happy man.
The DREAM version of Lyoto Machida, Brazilian karate fighter Nakahara had showed some skills in his MMA debut against Kazushi Sakuraba in 2008, and since then heíd won two in a row over Yoon Dong Sik and Shungo Oyama, but to me this was probably too much too soon for him, as despite a bad run in the UFC Chonan is still a really solid, experienced fighter whoís been in with the likes of Anderson Silva and Karo Parisyan. I expected Chonan to pull out the victory, probably by submission. On a side note, I seriously mark out for the ninja-style mask Chonan wears during his entrance.
First round begins and they circle before Chonan counters a low kick with a snapping right hand. They continue to circle and Nakahara lands a low kick. Right hand lands again for Chonan as they move around the ring. Good body kick from Nakahara. Combo from Nakahara but something from Chonan puts him down, or it mightíve been a slip, I couldnít tell. Chonan follows him down to the guard where Nakahara looks to synch up a triangle choke, but it looks like Chonan is safe to me as heís got both arms between the legs. Finally Chonan breaks through into the full closed guard of the Brazilian. Good right hand lands for the Piranha as he postures up. Chonan stands over him and drops a couple of punches down into the guard. More punches from Chonan from a standing position land, and then he drops back into the guard. Chonan looks to pass the guard, moving into half-guard, but he canít get his leg free. He actually manages to get the Hughes crucifix from half-guard, really stretching himself out, and lands some unanswered shots before Nakahara manages to lock him down a little better. Into side mount for Chonan but Nakahara scoots out to half-guard. Chonan gets to side mount for a split second, but then Nakahara escapes to full guard and the ref calls a break. Yellow card to Nakahara and they restart standing, and Chonan pops him with a nice left jab. Chonan walks him down and lands a couple more shots, and now Nakahara looks to be in some trouble. Big low kick from Nakahara lands low though and puts Chonan down. Ref calls time and he looks like heís in a lot of pain. Chonan takes some time to recover, and they restart and exchange some strikes to end. Clearly Chonanís round.
2nd round and Chonan opens with a stiff left jab. Jumping front kick (?) misses for Nakahara and Chonan lands a leg kick to return. Another nice left jab from Chonan. Good leg kick from Chonan again. Chonan is pretty much outstriking Nakahara here. Question mark kick misses for Nakahara and Chonan continues to land. Right hand catches him though but he seems okay. Telegraphed takedown attempt from Chonan misses badly and Nakahara starts swinging for the fences, and both men end up wobbled as they exchange wildly! Whoa. Nakaharaís throwing some CRAZY HOOKS here and suddenly this fight got awesome. Chonan drops desperately for a takedown but canít get it and he eats a knee too. He manages to hang onto a leg though, and gets a quick slam down into side mount. Smart man. Nakahara manages to escape into half-guard where he takes some punches, and then Chonan slips free and gets full mount. Punches and some elbows to the shoulders land for Chonan but he canít seal the deal and the fight ends there.
Judges have it a unanimous decision for Ryo Chonan in what turned into a pretty good fight actually. First round wasnít that exciting as Nakahara didnít do much and Chonan was able to dominate both standing and on the ground, but in the second round the Brazilian seemed to throw caution to the wind and when it became more of a brawl he had Chonan in trouble until the veteran used his smarts to get the fight back to the ground. Good debut in DREAM for the Piranha while Nakahara didnít really lose much despite coming off on the wrong end of the decision.
-Intermission time in Japan means thereís tons of time to kill, so they decide to air Josh Barnett vs. Gilbert Yvel from Afflictionís second show. Donít know how HDNet would get that footage as I thought it was Zuffa property these days. Who knows?
Pre-fight video package bills this as a Strike Force vs. DREAM match which is pretty cool, although I wish theyíd been able to put KJ up against a guy like Kawajiri or something. And no sooner have I typed that than Schiavello mentions Scott Coker wanting to set up KJ-Kawajiri should he get past Dida. Noons actually hadnít fought in almost two years after the EliteXC crash, which is interesting. Still love Didaís Bob Marley entrance.
We begin and right away Dida lands a kick to the groin. Ha, man. KJ takes some time out and then they restart with both men looking to strike; Dida throwing some looping punches while Noons jabs at the body. Couple of nice low kicks for Dida. Pair of body shots from Noons but this fight is sucking thus far. Very little happening outside of body punches from Noons and the odd leg kick from Dida. Good left hook from Dida as Noons steps in. Big left lands for KJ though, the best shot of the fight thus far. Five minutes gone and both men seem to be picking up the pace a little, but itís more of the same really. Noons begins to take over but the ref steps in and warns them for inactivity. Announcers canít understand that but Iím with the ref. Noons is really working the body now. Very little being done by Dida here. More of the same to end the round. Very disappointing round for both men.
Second round and Dida begins with a couple of crazy kicks that miss. Fight continues on the path from the first round though, as Noons walks Dida down and lands hooks to the body. My God this is dull. Good combo from Noons bloodies up Didaís nose but he doesnít really follow up. Suddenly Dida decides to wave him on and throws an overhand right, but then he backs up again. Sigh. With two minutes to go both men pick up the pace a little, but itís not like theyíre pulling a change of pace like Chonan and Nakahara did. Fight finally peters out.
Good God that fight was bad. Judges all give it to KJ Noons, meaning Strike Force are now 3-0 up over DREAM in this little series they have going on. Apparently Noons had a broken foot coming in which hampered his performance, but Dida has no excuses and fought a terrible fight. This was one of the most disappointing fights I can recall in a long time as both guys are usually pretty exciting.
Video package is odd as hell prior to this one as it seems to claim that Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia ducked Barnett, and tries to push a fight between him and Alistair Overeem. Of course, heís not fighting Overeem, heís fighting kickboxer Mighty Mo, a guy who is 39 years old and has four MMA fights on his record. And people wonder why I refuse to rank this guy in the top ten? What a waste of a fight. But hey, at least he can juice himself to his heartís content in Japan.
Fight gets underway and Barnett lands a leg kick as they circle around. Quick clinch is broken and then Mo catches Barnett off balance, dropping him with a left hook! Barnett quickly gets back to his feet and wades into the clinch with a knee, where he looks to take Mo to the ground. Referee calls the break and Barnett misses with a high kick. Front kick to the gut from Barnett. Low kick follows as Mo throws out a couple of slow-ish jabs. Suddenly a BIG KICK TO THE GROIN lands for Barnett and absolutely FOLDS Mo up. Heís in serious pain here, rolling around and groaning. Looks like this fight could be over.
Odd scene in the ring as the officials try to tend to Mo by rolling him over a couple of times, and covering him with towels. He even struggles to get onto his stool. Referee should probably throw this fight out I think as this is going on FOREVER and Mo still looks to be in agony. There looks to be about fifteen officials in the ring now, surrounding Mo on his stool, covered in towels. Only in Japan.
After what feels like about four hours they actually decide to restart, which is insane. Mo comes out throwing punches, but he takes a low kick from Barnett and then a hook to the body. Brief clinch and Mo muscles him off. Mo swings a couple of wild hooks, but a knee to the gut knocks him off balance and Josh follows with a takedown to side mount. He looks for a kimura but even before heís got it locked up Mo taps.
Absolute waste of everyoneís time, compounded even further by the fact that the groin shot pretty much screwed up any minimal chance Mo had of winning this. Post-fight Barnett lets Mo hit him in the groin. Wow. Let Overeem knock this idiotís head off and hopefully we wonít hear about him again.
Talk about an interesting fight! Brazilian Fernandes had won the DREAM Featherweight Title in 2009ís Grand Prix, beating Takafumi Otsuka, Masakazu Imanari (boo!), Joe Warren and Hiroyuki Takaya along the way, while former Lightweight champ Hansen Ė always an undersized 155lber Ė was dropping to a more 139lbs for the first time where he was looking to establish himself as the best fighter in the weight class outside of the WEC. I honestly wasnít sure who to pick here as itís such a close fight, but I was definitely excited to see it. With this being a title fight we get national anthems pre-fight which Iím never going to complain about, particularly when one of them is the dope Brazilian anthem. Staredown seems to show a big height advantage for Hellboy, although Bibiano looks thicker.
Weíre underway and Hansen stalks forward, but takes a series of leg kicks from Bibiano as he does so. Head kick is blocked by Hansen and Bibi misses a follow-up jumping knee, but then tackles Hellboy to the ground with a double leg. Bibiano stands to attempt a guard pass, but he has to avoid some upkicks and then Hansen explodes to his feet. Right to the body and head for Bibi and Hansen tries to answer but sees his punches blocked. Low kick from Fernandes and then he clinches and forces Hellboy into the ropes. Ref calls a clean break and they exchange some strikes with neither man really gaining an advantage. They clinch up again and now Fernandes gets a nice takedown to half-guard. Bibiano works to pass the guard, but a nice escape from Hansen allows him to his feet. Combo from Hansen but he walks into a short right hand from Bibi. Bibiano is actually throwing more strikes here which is surprising. Combo from Hansen but a knee from Fernandes hits the groin and the ref calls a break. They restart and Hansen hits him with a heavy leg kick. Good left hook from Hansen but Bibi grabs a clinch and they exchange knees. Referee calls a break quickly and the even striking exchange continues. Nice double leg from Bibiano puts Hansen down again, but he throws some upkicks as Bibiano looks to pass the guard. Hansen up to his feet but he eats a right to the body. Superman punch from Hansen is blocked. Nice jumping knee from Fernandes almost lands flush, but Hansenís hands just about block it. Good leg kick from Hansen. Stiff right hand from Bibi backs Hansen up and he follows with a knee from the clinch. Less than a minute to go now and Hansen muscles out of the clinch and they continue to exchange some strikes. Round ends on the feet. Well, the DREAM judges score it as a full fight rather than round-by-round, but I think Fernandes is ahead right now.
Final round and Hansen pushes forward with some jabs and a hard low kick. Big double leg plants him on the ground again though and Fernandes looks like heís going for a kneebar before they scramble and Hansen escapes to his feet. Good leg kick again from Hansen, answered by one from Bibi. Hansenís leg kicks are looking excellent here. Low kick is caught this time though and Bibi uses a right hand to knock him off balance to the ground. Upkicks from Hansen but Bibiano drops down into the guard to land some punches. Hansen escapes to the feet and NAILS him with a powerful knee to the midsection. Best shot of the fight thus far from Hansen. Bibi takes it though and looks for a takedown, but Hansen uses the ropes to block and now theyíre clinched up. Knee to the gut from Hansen and the ref calls a break. Back to the striking exchange and it must be said, Bibianoís doing a lot better standing than Iíd expected him to do. Into the clinch again but little happens and the ref separates them. Body kick from Hansen as Bibiano misses some wild hooks. Hansen comes in swinging but Bibiano grabs a clinch again. Ref quickly breaks them off and they trade punches with neither man really landing. Knee from Hansen is caught and Bibi gets a takedown and passes to side mount. Reversal from Hansen allows him to his feet and they clinch with less than thirty seconds to go. Ref breaks them off and Hansen comes in swinging, but he canít land anything and the fight ends there.
Judges have it a split decision for Bibiano Fernandes to retain his title, which is I think the right way to go. Hansen probably landed the better strikes in the second round, but he never hurt the champion and in the longer round Bibiano more than matched him standing and all of the takedowns went to the Brazilian. Hansen to me looked a little drawn out and I think heíll probably fight better at this weight next time, but this was still a tremendous win for Bibiano Fernandes who has come on leaps and bounds since he lost to Urijah Faber a couple of years back, and nowadays I think heís a difficult fight for anyone in the world at FW, and that includes WECís top guys like Faber, Aldo, Brown, etc. Solid fight but it wasnít as explosive as Iíd hoped.
-Winning fighters pose in the ring and the show wraps up there.
I was talking to T.Cow about DREAM on AIM the other day and mentioned how disappointed I was with this show, and his reply was ďDREAM isnít so bad if you donít consider them a major promotion any moreĒ, and perhaps thatís the case. The roster just doesnít have the talent levels that they once did and with their tendency to throw cards together at the last minute, it doesnít seem that theyíll be able to stack a card like in their early days and put on a really spectacular show. This one was extremely poor, with Hansen-Bibiano being the best fight and even that was just decent, and although there were two good knockouts from Kikuno and Escovedo, Noons-Dida was awful, Barnett-Mo was a waste of time, and Minowa-Ambriz will probably be a strong candidate for Worst Fight of the Year. Thumbs way down for DREAM 13.
Best Fight: Fernandes-Hansen
Worst Fight: Minowa-Ambriz
Overall Rating: **
UFC: 107-111, Fight Night 20 & 21, Versus 1, TUF X Finale
King of the Cage: Various shows