The summertime drought for major Japanese MMA ends Monday morning at 3AM Eastern / Midnight Pacific when Fighting and Entertainment Group presents DREAM.10 on HDNet from Saitama Super Arena. DREAM's first Welterweight Grand Prix champion will be crowned; plus we'll see the return of Paulo Filho to Japanese soil against the always dangerous Melvin Manhoef; Shinya Aoki looking to rebound from his brutal WWGP loss as he moves back down to lightweight to face Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro; and the debut of DEEP welterweight champ Katsunori Kikuno against Andre "Dida" Amade, who makes his first MMA apperance in over a year.
As always, BloodyElbow.com will be here with live play-by-play and results, plus comments from the long-dormant BE Night Crew.
1:56 AM ET: Just about an hour left 'til showtime. If you somehow missed the news, WWGP favorite "Mach" Sakurai needed three tries and several hours to make the 76kg (167 lbs.) limit at weigh-ins yesterday. We'll get to see how such a grueling cut will affect his performance against Marius Zaromskis early on, as their semifinal bout is the second fight of the night.
3:20 AM ET: We're live! The opening VTR is playing (sentimental music, lots of vintage Fedor/Mirko/Wand footage) and the ceremony should start momentarily.
Monday, July 20
Saitama Super Arena
Round 1: Ikemoto feeding the Team Quest fighter a steady diet of leg and front kicks early, then catches him with a solid left after about 90 seconds. Saffiedine ties up against the ropes, now exchanging knees up the middle with Ikemoto in the clinch. Now Ikemoto looking for (and missing) some big high kicks, Saffiedine takes the opportunity to clinch up again. Halfway through a very even first round now. Tarec tries for a head kick but slips and Ikemoto quickly follows down and into the American's guard. Saffeiedine closes the guard up momentarily, but Ikemoto is able to break free, posture up and drop some shots from the top. Ikemoto is stalled out in half guard as he tries to mount up, but Tarec is able to sweep and scramble back up and into the clinch. Ikemoto misses again with his lunging double axehandle attack. Saffiedine catches the Japanese veteran with a flush right, then clinches and delivers a nice knee. Another solid right from Tarec, who closes out the round with some sharp leg kicks. Ikemoto controlled early but Saffiedine certainly turned the tide at the end.
Round 2: The fighters trade leg, thigh and teep kicks for the first 90 seconds. Saffiedine looking for a real haymaker when he throws his one-twos. A left jab from Tarec snaps back the head of Ikemoto. The American still looking very fresh as Ikemoto absorbs punishment and begins to fade. Two minutes left. Ikemoto shoots a touble but is overtaken and winds up with Saffiedine on top of him in his half guard. Tarec passes to Ikemoto's right, now knee-on-belly, and now to mount. Ikemoto bucks wildly, trying to escape, and he does when Tarec leans back to look for a heelhook. 20 seconds left and Ikemoto is desperately throwing shots from Tarec's open guard, but it's too late.
BloodyElbow.com sees the fight for Tarec Saffiedine
Tarec Saffiedine (7-1) def. Seichi Ikemoto (18-16-5) via Unanimous Decision (3-0)
Round 1: Both men begin the fight blasting away with hard punches, kicks to the body, and a flying knee from Zaromskis for good measure. Mach looks stunned, but tags Zaromskis back with a right of his own, then puts the Lithuanian on his back. They're restarted in the center but Zaromskis regains his feet and sprawls nicely on a subsequent attempt from Mach. Sakurai is bleeding profusely from the corner of his left eye after eating those vicious shots from Zaromskis early, and as the referee pauses the fight, another deep cut is visible over the same eye. After a few minutes, the fight restarts. Left head kick from Zaromskis floors Sakurai! The shin looked to connect clean with Mach's chin/neck, and Zaromskis polished him off with some hard left hands on the ground.
Marius Zaromskis (10-2) def. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai (35-9-2) via TKO (Head Kick and Punches) R2
Round 1: High with a quick takedown, reversed by Galvao, but High manages to get back on top. Galvao has his legs wrapped around the right leg of High, who seems understandably hesitant to move from his top position with the BJJ whiz on his limb. High throws shots and works back to his feet, moving toward the ring post with Galvao wrapped around his waist from behind. The ref restarts them in the center. High floors Galvao with a fast left cross, but Galvao recovers quickly and begins intertwining himself with High, rolling for kneebar or heelhook. Now Galvao twists the toehold on High's left foot. High won't submit, continuing to try and extract himself. High is sitting on his butt now, Galvao wrapped around his left leg and facing the mat. Galvao rolls to his side and High finally manages to free his leg. Impressive stuff from High, but he soon finds himself beneath Galvao, eating elbows to the body. High tries to buck and winds up with Galvao on his back. Galvao locks on the body triangle, trying to soften up High with punches from the back. High defending the RNC well, but there's three minutes left and it'd be a miracle if he could get loose of this body triangle. Galvao works his left arm across the chin, but can't quite sink it under. High remaining calm, controlling Galvao's wrist and staying clear of the choke. Galvao goes too far up on the back and High is able to twist around, winding up with Galvao in full mount. One minute left. Galvao finishes out the first round with a number of shots to a surviving High.
Round 2: Galvao ducks into a left head kick from High, who foolishly follows Galvao down to the ground and into his guard. High thinks better of it and they're soon back on the feet. High really loading up on his lefts and connecting with a few. Galvao fails on a shot and flops to guard, but High's having none of it. Two minutes left. Right high kick misses from Galvao and again he goes to guard, eating a few slapping leg kicks from High before he's forced to stand. The only offense of the last minute are body kicks and a few combinations from High. Tough fight to call, given the scoring system and the dominance from Galvao early on which gave way to High battering the Brazilian in the second. Either of these guys is going to be extremely tired for a match with the relatively fresh Zaromskis.
BloodyElbow.com sees the fight for Jason High
Jason High (8-1) def. Andre Galvao (3-1) via Split Decision (2-1)
Round 1: Kikuno throws a right leg kick and Dida clobbers him with an overhand right. Kikuno falls on his behind but pops back up and into his zombie stance. Amade staying on the outside. Three minutes in and very little action, both men looking to counter shots which aren't forthcoming from the other guy. The referee gives both fighters official warnings; the next will come with a yellow card. Left body kick from Kikuno stuns Dida, and Kikuno charges in to take the Brazilian down. Kikuno flattens him out, face down on the mat and unleashes some brutal shots to the head until the ref steps in.
Katsunori Kikuno (12-1-1) def. Andre "Dida" Amade (6-4-1) via TKO (Punches) R1
Round 1: Filho shoots a double early, but Melvin sprawls nicely against the ropes and plants a knee on Filho, then a flurry of punches. Right high kick from Manhoef just misses, clipping the shoulder of Filho. Now a right and a left, followed by a nasty uppercut from the Dutchman. Filho shoots again, successfully this time, and he's latched on to Manhoef's right arm. Filho flips him over and Manhoef is forced to tap! The submission came around the 3 minute mark. Well done by Filho, weathering the early storm.
Paulo Filho (17-1) def. Melvin Manhoef (23-6-1) via Submission (Armbar) R1
Jesse Taylor (12-3) def. Dong Sik Yoon (4-7) via TKO (Ankle Injury) R1
Shinya Aoki (21-4, 1 NC) def. Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro (20-3) via Unanimous Decision (3-0)
Round 1: Zaromskis tries for a flying knee early, but High clinches up and eventually works a trip takedown. High working from Zaromskis' closed guard, but Zaromskis stands up and reverses, putting High on his back. High swivels his hips for an armbar and both men get to their feet. Glancing one-two combo from Zaromskis backs up High and sets up a massive right high kick which knocks Jason High out COLD. Devastating KO from the night's biggest underdog. Zaromskis is your WWGP champion, but he can hardly celebrate as he waits anxiously for Jason High to regain consciousness. The broadcast cuts to a commercial, and High's been scraped off the mat by the time we return. Here's hoping he's alright.
Marius Zaromskis (11-2) def. Jason High (9-2) via KO (Head Kick) R1
Galvao and Sakurai are in the ring to accept their oversized 3rd Place "checks." (Dollar amounts noticably abesent this time around.) Jason High appears to accept his 2nd place award and trophy, looking fine but understandably demoralized. Zaromskis does a backflip before event producer Keiichi Sasahara officially declares him the DREAM Welterweight Champion.