In a move that's not exactly unusual for the Japanese MMA scene, it seems that Shinya Aoki has yet another opponent for the Dream.17: Fight For Japan card on May 29th. Antonio McKee was announced by Dream as Aoki's opponent after a lengthy search, but it appears McKee cannot or will not compete. In his place, TUF and UFC veteran Shane Nelson will step up to face one of the top lightweights in the world on less than two weeks notice. But, as usual, the fight is not official yet. MMAJunkie has it:
MMAjunkie.com today learned from sources close to the event that Nelson (13-5 MMA, 0-0 DREAM) has agreed to replace McKee (25-4-2 MMA, 0-0 DREAM) and face Shinya Aoki (27-5 MMA, 11-2 DREAM) at "DREAM.17: Fight for Japan."
DREAM.17 takes place May 29 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, and serves as a fundraiser following earthquakes and a tsunami that recently ravaged the country. HDNet is expected to air the show in North America.
Bout agreements for the contest are expected to be finalized shortly.
The exact reason for McKee's withdrawal is subject to much speculation. McKee himself says he had visa issues, which had been suspected as a potential barrier for the fight in recent days. However, Mike Kogan (a rep for Dream) disputes McKee's statement:
"There's a travel agent in L.A. since this morning ready to get all the paperwork processed and have his visa processed by Thursday," Kogan said. "He would have had plenty of time. So if it's a visa issue, he can get it done. If it's not, then his people need to come up with a better excuse."
Whatever the reason is, it's all but certain he's off the card. Now let's just hope Nelson doesn't have any of the same issues and is able to step in the ring against Aoki for the big charity event.
UPDATE - McKee spoke with Ben Fowlkes and is now being intentionally mysterious with his reasoning:
"You know what? So I can fight Aoki in the near future, I'm not going to say anything about it," McKee told MMA Fighting on Tuesday. "I'll just say, I've heard it was because I just had surgery. I've heard there's something wrong with my visa. I've heard I wasn't getting paid so I wasn't taking it. But it is definitely my responsibility that the fight's not happening, and I'll just leave it at that. Because I want that fight, sooner or later."
DREAM: Fight for Japan, May 29th
Shinya Aoki vs.
Shane Nelson Rich Clementi
Takeshi Inoue vs. Koichiro Matsumoto
Joachim Hansen vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida
Caol Uno vs. Akiyo Nishiura
Katsunori Kikuno vs. Daisuke Nakamura
Bantamweight GP 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