DREAM event producer Keiichi Sasahara announced Monday that DEEP featherweight champion Koichiro Matsumoto (12-2) will battle former Shooto 143-pound champion 'Lion' Takeshi Inoue on the DREAM 'Fight for Japan' card, taking place on May 29th, 2011 from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Inoue recently defeated #2-ranked Scouting Report prospect Taiki Tsuchiya at Shooto Tradition 2011 on the 29th of April, a legitimate victory after suffering high profile losses to Hatsu Hioki and Kazuyuki Miyata in his last two previous bouts.
Matsumoto was ranked at #5 on the 2011 World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report, earning the placement after rattling off five straight victories following his loss to Katsunori Kikuno at DEEP 41 in April of 2009. The match-up should be an interesting clash of similar styles as both men like to implement counter tactics, but that may lead to a boring stalemate on the feet.
Shinya Aoki is also on tap to fight on the card, although an opponent is unclear at the moment. WEC veteran Jamie Varner, MFC and UFC veteran Antonio McKee, and one-time UFC fighter Willamy Freire have all been connected to a potential bout with Aoki in recent days. Varner has since been excluded from the discussion per MMAFighting.com's Ray Hui:
Also, the co-headliner featuring former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner making his first appearance back in the regional scene will go on as scheduled even though Varner is being heavily rumored as a possible opponent for Shinya Aoki on May 29 at Dream.17. Varner's management informed MMAFighting.com Monday that Varner will "100 percent" be fighting on the XFO card against Tyler Combs. Varner signed a three-fight deal with the XFO.
The rest of the card is shaping up as follows:
Bantamweight Quarterfinals (Bantamweight Semifinals on same night)
Masakazu Imanari vs. Keisuke Fujiwara
Hideo Tokoro vs. Yoshiro Maeda
Kenji Osawa vs. Takafumi Otsuka
Darren Uyenoyama vs. Atsushi Yamamoto