"Evil Fist" Hiroyuki Takaya will challenge Bibiano Fernandes for the DREAM featherweight title on New Year's Eve. Photo by GBRing.
Japan's dual year-end cards got their first official bouts this week as Fighting and Entertainment Group and World Victory Road each announced matches for "Dynamite!! 2010" and "Soul of Fight," respectively.
DREAM parent company FEG added just one bout to its bill for Dec. 31 at Saitama Super Arena, but it's a heck of a fight. Featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandes will defend his title against Hiroyuki Takaya in a rematch of DREAM's 2009 featherweight grand prix final from October 2009, where Fernandes eked out a close split decision over "Evil Fist." Since then, Takaya has left nothing to the judges, knocking out Joachim Hansen and Chase Beebe in consecutive bouts. Meanwhile, Fernandes has competed just once, taking a March split decision over Hansen before running into well-documented non-payment issues with DREAM.
The Fernandes-Takaya match-up had been rumored for a few months, and even predicted by Michihiro Omigawa, who beat Takaya via first-round TKO last New Year's Eve. Omigawa has stated that he feels he's being passed over for the title shot due to his past association with Sengoku. It remains to be seen whether FEG will give Omigawa a spot on the card, or if he'll take his services stateside.
The day before "Dynamite!!," WVR will stage its all-day, 30-bout "Soul of Fight" at Ariake Coliseum. Officially announced for that show on Friday was a heavyweight tilt between Dave Herman and Yoshihiro Nakao (a.k.a. "Kiss"). The match will mark the American's third time in Japan, and his first time competing for Sengoku since knocking out Jim York last November. Herman most recently submitted touted Polish product Michal Kita under the Bellator banner in September. A veteran of K-1 and PRIDE, Nakao enters the bout on a two-fight win streak. He last saw action in March, when he dispatched of former sumo Henry "Sentoryu" Miller in the second round.
Also made official for "Soul of Fight" was the final of SRC's 2010 welterweight grand prix, which pits Yasubey Enomoto against Keita Nakamura. The semi-finals of the promotion's first Asia bantamweight tournament will also be on the show, as Manabu Inoue takes on Shunichi Shimizu and Akitoshi Tamura meets Taiyo Nakahara.