Dream appears ready to kick off its first Welterweight Grand Prix in a big way, pitting No. 1 ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki – who has several past welterweight bouts to his credit – against former Top 10 ranked Hayato "Mach" Sakurai. MMAWeekly.com sources confirmed the planned bout on Friday
The bout is the first known match-up of the opening round of the tournament and should be a popular choice for the fans in Japan. Both fighters are popular, successful fighters with strong followings in their home country.
At first glance I would say this doesn't make sense to put 2 of the favorites in an opening round bout with each other. But when you consider that Aoki wants to fight on every card and he has the 155 title it makes alot more sense. If he loses no big deal he still has fights with Hansen, Kawajiri, JZ, Ishida and the Strikeforce LW's if they decide to pay a visit. If he wins its honestly a bigger issue because what do you do with Sakurai who can't make 155 and is too small to fight at 185?