Every week over at Head Kick Legend, I pick a classic fight in K-1 or JMMA history to breakdown, as well as post a video for readers to watch. The goal is to make people aware of the great fights and fighters that make these sports so enjoyable. This week we take a look at the DREAM.5 Lightweight Grand Prix semi-final between Eddie Alvarez and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Enjoy!
The end of 2007 into the beginning of 2008 was a tumultuous time for Japanese MMA. Zuffa had completed the purchase of Pride, and made clear their intentions to dissolve the organization. No one in Japanese media seemed to want to offer a television contract to any of the smaller organizations. It seemed as if Shooto, M-1 Global and FEGs Yarennoka! event would officially bring an end to the era known to fans as "JMMA".
That is, until the aforementioned companies decided to pool their resources together to create DREAM. DREAM was announced in early 2008 after the dissolution of Hero’s (another JMMA organization). It was announced that all of Hero’s fighters would fight for the newly minted organization, as well as Pride standouts such as Mirko Filipovic, Shinya Aoki, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Fedor Emelianenko (although the last one never came to fruition). With so many incredible lightweights on their roster (Hero’s was known for an excellent Lightweight division), the powers that be decided to start off their promotion with a Lightweight Grand Prix to crown their first champion. Featuring the likes of Shinya Aoki, Caol Uno, Joachim Hansen, and Mitsuhiro Ishida (among others), DREAM had planned for the tournament to take place over the course of three events, with the semi-finals and finals occurring the same night at DREAM.5. The first semi-final match-up of the night paired Shinya Aoki against Caol Uno, in a battle of submission aces. In the end, it was Aoki who would prevail by way of unanimous decision and make his way to the finals.
The other semi-final in the Grand Prix was between a young, American wrestler in Eddie Alvarez, and a rising, Japanese star in Tatsuya Kawajiri. Kawajiri was the far more experienced fighter, with 28 professional MMA fights to Alvarez’s 16. Kawajiri had also faced more prestigious opponents such as Caol Uno, Vitor Ribeiro, Takanori Gomi and Gilbert Melendez, while Alvarez’s only other notable opponent was Joachim Hansen. That being said, Alvarez was viewed as a legitimate threat to Kawajiri as he had only one loss to his record and had finished all but one of his victories by KO, TKO or submission to punches.
Over at Head Kick Legend, I break down the fight as well as provide the video...