DREAM 11 Preview: Joachim Hansen Battles Shinya Aoki for Lightweight Title

Shinya_aoki_vs_joachim_hansen_medium In the main event of the evening, DREAM Lightweight champion Joachim Hansen (19-7-1) will battle the submission grappling prowess of Shinya Aoki (21-4) in a rubber match that will see Hansen defend his title for the first time after obtaining it in July of 2008 at the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix Final. Hansen was actually defeated during the Grand Prix by a surging Eddie Alvarez in the quarterfinals, but Alvarez was unable to continue due to a badly swollen eye. Hansen was allowed to fill in for Alvarez in the Grand Prix Final, winning the bout in 4:19 into the first round after catching Aoki with a punch from top control and putting him on ice.

This will be a rubber match between the two fighters as Aoki managed to defeat Hansen at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 via the difficult gogoplata submission at only 2:24 of the first round. Interestingly enough, Aoki went on after his loss to Hansen in the DREAM Grand Prix Final to win four out of his next five bouts, defeating Todd Moore, Eddie Alvarez, David Gardner (Hello Japan!), and a returning PRIDE veteran in Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro. He was devastated by Hayato "Mach" Sakurai at DREAM 8 during the Welterweight Grand Prix Opening Round as Sakurai blasted Aoki into unconsciousness in only 0:27 seconds. It was his only loss within the last year.

Hansen hasn't been as active by any means. Following his win over Aoki in July of 2008, he was scheduled to battle a repaired Gesias Calvancante at Dynamite 2008, but Hansen suffered a concussion a day before the event and was not allowed to compete. Two months later, Hansen was dubbed as healthy and able to train. It took another eight months before we'd actually see him compete again. Welcome back, Hellboy.

Much like the past breakdowns of this match-up, it's a pretty straight-forward battle to analyze. Hansen offers a vast array of Scandinavian jiu-jitsu credentials that have proven themselves in the ring as Hansen offers a sound ground skill-set coupled with powerful punching and kickboxing. His pale skin tone, powerful physique, and deep Norwegian accent also give off the impression that "Hellboy" Hansen is as tough as they come, and you'd be right. In 27 total fights, he's only been finished three times. Some of Hansen's classics involve true wars of attrition, and he may be in for another battle of wills in this showdown.

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While Hansen offers a solid stand-up game and great defensive grappling ability, Aoki is a bit more one-dimensional in his means to win a fight. Aoki's submission grappling game is bar-none one of the best in the lightweight division. His credentials aren't stacked with first place finishes and championships, but his jiu-jitsu is some of the most dynamic and quickest to the transition in the sport of MMA. Twelve of his twenty-one total victories have come by way of submission, and he was the first competitor in MMA to successful land the elusive gogoplata submission, coincidentally against his opponent Joachim Hansen. While Aoki may be a bit one-dimensional, the one dimension of his game is very difficult for opponents to work against. Hansen will have his hands full if the fight hits the floor.

Most fans would look at this fight as an edge to Hansen. He has a striking advantage over Aoki as Aoki will likely only offers some subpar punching coupled with a ranged kicking attack. Ribeiro was slowed by Aoki's right kicks to the shoulder, but the ultimate problem was that Vitor had nothing to offer in the striking game to counter. Aoki's grappling prowess will outrank Hansen's experience on the floor, and Aoki has an uncanny ability at pulling guard or wrapping up his opponents via flying guard pulls. If Hansen can simply win the striking game while avoiding Aoki's attempts to grapple, he should be able to win this bout. Unfortunately, Aoki will be actively seeking a ground battle at any means necessary. It should be a true tactical chess match you won't want to miss.

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