DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki at today's press conference. Photo by GBRing.
With only three weeks left before the September 25 event, Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) revealed the first set of matches for DREAM.16 at a Tokyo press conference today.
Aoki - who showed up to the presser sporting a Nick Diaz t-shirt and chastised "indiscreet reporters asking negative questions" - defended his title against Tatsuya Kawajiri in July, rebounding from the five-round thumping dealt to him by Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez in April.
Since his most recent release from the UFC last summer, Aurelio has notched back-to-back submission wins in smaller international shows. He's slated to take part in Shine Fights' one-night lightweight tournament on September 10, should the troubled event actually take place. DREAM.16 will mark the Brazilian's first bout in Japan since his stint in PRIDE, during which he choked out Takanori Gomi (whom Aoki, confusingly, called out during today's meeting).
In perhaps the most intriguing addition, former Shooto 143-pound champion "Lion" Takeshi Inoue (18-4) will go up against resurgent Olympic freestyle wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata (9-7). The match will be Inoue's first since dropping his title to Hatsu Hioki in May, the same month in which Miyata earned a split decision win over then-DEEP champion Takafumi Otsuka. Miyata has not lost in four contests since dropping to featherweight in April of last year.
Meanwhile, former lightweight contender Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen (19-10-1) continues his featherweight campaign against Hideo Tokoro (26-22-1) in what looks to be a barn-burner. The Norwegian fan favorite has lost three straight, including two since dropping to 143-pounds against Hiroyuki Takaya and Bibiano Fernandes.
Regarding DREAM's estranged featherweight champion, event producer Keiichi Sasahara told reporters that both Fernandes and Kevin Randleman have now been paid the fight purses owed to them. Sasahara offered apologies to both the fighters and fans, but deferred to absent FEG head Sadaharu Tanikawa when pressed for further explanation.
Sasahara also informed the press that negotiations with Sengoku Raiden Championships have stalled out, halting plans for a proposed "DREAM vs. SRC" angle for the upcoming event.
One additional bout is expected to be announced on DREAM's official website in the next 24 hours.
Update: A previously reported bout between Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Kazushi Sakuraba has been confirmed by a video on DREAM's YouTube account. Watch it after the jump.