Join us here at BloodyElbow.com on Saturday, September 24 at 3 AM ET for live results and commentary of DREAM 17: World Bantamweight Grand Prix, airing LIVE on HDNet from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Interact with the BloodyElbow.com Night Crew in the comments section and follow me (@lelandroling) on Twitter for live analysis.
The event will feature the quarterfinal round of the World Bantamweight Grand Prix tournament along with a number of Japanese MMA staples. Most notably, Shinya Aoki will battle former WEC lightweight champion Rob McCullough in the main event of the evening, and Tatsuya Kawajiri will make his featherweight debut against Norwegian Joachim Hansen. The rest of the card is as follows:
DREAM 17: World Bantamweight Grand Prix
September 24, Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Round 1: McCullough lets Aoki wade in way too far, almost to a point where it's baffling why McCullough didn't unleash the fury. Aoki trips up McCullough, gets the takedown, and now in top control. Moves to half guard, was trying to sink his arm underneath McCullough's chin. Aoki postures up, lands a few blows to McCullough's face. Now a scramble, but Aoki can't improve his position. Aoki tries again and gets mount. McCullough miraculously escapes. Back down he goes. Aoki working inside half guard. Aoki passes to side control, but McCullough doing a good job of defending. McCullough flips over and gets up to all fours. Aoki lands brutal knees to the noggin, then takes the back and chokes out McCullough. Shinya Aoki def. Rob McCullough via submission (neck/face crank), Round 1.
Results and play-by-play after the fold...Featherweight: Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-7-2) vs. Joachim Hansen (22-10)
Round 1: Crazy start. Hansen and Kawajiri go toe-to-toe right away, and Hansen catches Kawajiri. Kawa falls the side, and Hansen gets all excited and jumps on top of Kawajiri. As the commentary team states, bad move. Kawajiri recovers, overpowers Hansen, and gets to top control. Hansen maintains closed guard after Kawajiri nearly passed. Hansen producing a little offense off his back, and he scrambles to his feet. Moments later, Kawajiri powers through his defenses and trips him to the floor. Kawajiri now laying in Hansen's butterfly guard. Kawajiri attempts to pass, and Hansen rolls over onto Kawajiri's back. Kawajiri defends, and Hansen does it again as Kawajiri attempts to pass. Hansen stands up, latching onto Kawajiri's back while throwing knees into Kawajiri's knees. Kawajiri powers out of the hold suddenly, right into side control and to a kimura hold... all in one motion. Wow. Hansen defends, and Kawajiri can't yank it. Hansen suddenly explodes and reverses the position. Then, Hansen gets mount! Round ends. BloodyElbow.com gives a slight edge to Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Round 2: Kawajiri attempts to land on Hansen to open the round, chucking combinations while Hansen defends. Hansen shoots, and Kawajiri defends beautifully. He lands in Hansen's butterfly guard. Classic Kawajiri stuff now as he's "crushing" Hansen from the top. Nothing significant, but he's remaining active with short blows. Kawajiri attempts to transition to side control, and Hansen tries to slip out the back and reverse. Kawajiri wises up to the situation and drives his weight down. Hansen now attempting to throw his legs up for a triangle choke attempt, missing. More pounding from the top by Kawajiri, now attempting to pass to side control with his arm in prime arm triangle position. Hansen defends. Bell rings. Kawajiri dominates the round. BloodyElbow.com had fight in Tatsuya Kawajiri's favor.
Round 3: Toe-to-toe to start, both men blocking attacks. Kawajiri throws a hook-uppercut combination, then ties up Hansen's waist. Surprisingly, Hansen escapes. They separate, and the follow-up exchange sees Hansen tag Kawajiri. Kawajiri falls, but regains his feet as Hansen moves forward. As expected, Kawajiri latches on and takes down Hansen in the scramble. Now in half guard. Kawajiri attempting to lock down an arm triangle. He has it, and Kawajiri bucks out of half guard to side control. Hansen taps. Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Joachim Hansen via submission (arm triangle), Round 3.
Round 1: Uno stalks to start the round, switching stances to confuse Inoue. He finally exchanges, but they clinch up briefly and separate. Uno lands a right jab, and Takeshi is shuffling his legs... like always, Trigg and Schiavello. Some stale action on the feet for a bit before Inoue blasts Uno and drops him. Uno escapes the follow-up punches, and regains his feet. He looks okay now, not at all wobbly. Uno throws a head kick, narrowly missing. Uno lands a few straight punches. Inoue responds with a brutal head kick after some flashes pawing and foot movement. BRUTAL! Uno is done. Takeshi Inoue def. Caol Uno via KO (head kick to the kisser), Round 1
Round 1: Cabral goes after Saku right away, backing him into the corner. Wings blows over the top, but misses. Sakuraba is wrapped up like a mummy. Sakuraba eats a punch, and he's wobbled. Cabral can't follow it up, so he shoots and dumps Sakuraba instantly. Saku escapes, and Cabral follows him back to his feet with a barrage of blows. Saku now slinging shots back at Cabral. Saku has recovered. Cabral finds a way to get Sakuraba to the ground in the clinch, pounds on the side of Saku's skull. Saku to half guard now, and Cabal is content with just pounding on him from this position. Saku scrambles briefly, but can't escape. Cabral postures up, landing a number of shots to Saku's chin. Cabral continues his assault, easily taking the round. BloodyElbow.com has Yan Cabral up after one.
Round 2: More of the same from Cabral in the second. He's beating up on Saku standing, kicking at the knees of the Japanese legend. Saku briefly tried to shoot, but he has literally no speed in his shot anymore. Cabral ties him up, takes him down near the corner, and works from side control. Cabral eventually works to the arm triangle, as he stated he would in the pre-fight, and taps Sakuraba. The arena is dead silent. Wow. Yan Cabral def. Kazushi Sakuraba via submission (arm triangle), Round 1.
Round 1: Kitaoka paws a jab, then shoots immediately. He latches onto a leg immediately, turns Freire around, and Freire saves himself by grabbing the ropes. Freire finally falls to his back as Freire attempts to sink in a guillotine. Kitaoka in half guard, trying to hop over. Kitaoka can't take advantage, and Freire escapes to his feet. Kitaoka sticks to Freire's back however, then moves to the front and threatens with a guillotine. Referee separates as Kitaoka stalls. Back to center after the referee warns Freire for rope grabbing. Kitaoka throws a head kick, then shoots. Freire just gives up the leg, obviously learning nothing from being taken down at will in the UFC. Kitaoka loses the position, and back to center. Freire is hesitant, scared of Kitaoka's shot for good reason -- he can't defend it. Freire glancing some kicks off the torso of Satoru, then misses a kick and Kitaoka dives right under it for the takedown. Beautiful. BloodyElbow.com has Satoru Kitaoka winning the fight after one.
Round 2: Kitaoka latches on to Freire to start the second, moving to the ropes. Nothing. Back to center. Freire now stalking Kitaoka a bit more, some sense of urgency now. Now, he's barraging the knees of Kitaoka. Kitaoka shoots for the takedown, and Freire turns him over to avoid it. Freire backs him into the corner. Kitaoka turns Freire around. They stall. Back to center. Freire is getting more aggressive now here later in the second. More kicks from Freire to Kitaoka's knees. Kitaoka shoots, Freire sprawls and defends. Freire gaining confidence now, and Kitaoka is having problems. Kitaoka dives for a takedown, nearly runs into the turnbuckle, and Freire tries to land a fight finisher from the top after Kitaoka's mistake. He misses, and Satoru escapes. BloodyElbow.com has Satoru Kitaoka narrowly up after two, Freire gaining momentum
Round 3: Kitaoka shoots in immediately, and he gets deep into the leg of Freire. Freire defends well though, although he's now stuck in the turnbuckle. Freire jockeys for position, and they fall to the floor with Freire getting on top. Kitaoka now threatening with a guillotine after getting back guard. Too much space though, and Freire escapes to his feet. Chiquerim is now battering the lead leg of Kitaoka. They call a low blow, and the replay confirms it. Brief timeout, and Kitaoka is ready to go. Willamy kicks at Kitaoka, and Kitaoka answer with a shot to the leg. He has a single leg in the turnbuckle now, but stalls. Referee separates them. Freire missed a kick, and Kitaoka dives for the ankle. He misses. LOL, Freire gets a yellow card for winning. Bizarre. Freire is lighting up Kitaoka now, kicks and punches landing, Freire clips Kitaoka with a right. Kitaoka falls over after a massive overhand, Friere follows him down. Bad idea, but Freire escapes as Kitaoka is attempting to latch on a leg. Back to the feet now. Freire doing more damage in this round than the previous two rounds. Twenty ticks left, Freire is walking down Kitaoka. Kitaoka lands a nice left as he runs away. Bell rings. BloodyElbow.com has it for Willamy Freire. More damage, although the yellow card might hurt him.
Satoru Kitaoka def. Willamy Freire via split decision.
Rest of the play-by-play and results after the fold...
Round 1: Harris chucks the first jab of the fight, followed by a left hook. Classic ominous Harris stance, stalking Nakamura. Nakamura coming forward cautiously, throws a bomb, and uses it to find his way into the clinch. Nakamura now attempting to put knees into Harris' legs. Harris reverses the position, eats a knee to the ribs for his efforts. After a brief scramble, they separate. Nakamura pressing the action into the corner, attempting to land shot punches and missing. Harris turns him around and puts a knee into his midsection. Back to center. Wow. Nakamura nearly crushes Harris with a head kick. Nakamura turns into the turnbuckle and Harris explodes through with a flying knee. It doesn't land flush. Harris now attempting to pick up Nakamura to dump him. A minute-and-a-half left in the round, the referee separates them to center. Harris presses the action to the ropes, lands a brutal body blow to Nakamura's ribs. They separate again, and Nakamura comes forward, throwing. Harris evades, then attempts to bring it to the ground. Nakamura defends easily. Harris with an overhand left, right jab to end the round. BloodyElbow scores the round 10-9 Harris.
Round 2: Harris walks Nakamura into the turnbuckle to start the second, beats on Nakamura briefly before heading back to center ring. Nakamura runs at Harris, and Harris latches onto him. Wow. Nakamura trips and tosses Harris over his hip, landing in top control. Harris gets right back up though. Harris now threatening with a takedown along the ropes, but Nakamura is making it difficult. Harris can't explode through Nakamura's defenses, and the judo player gets back to his feet. Harris isn't letting go however. Finally, he moves Nakamura into the corner, then separates. Harris is really drained. Both men exchange at center, neither man landing. Glancing knee from Harris, Nakamura whiffs. Back into the corner now, Harris presses and beats on the midsection with punches and knees. Referee separates. Nakamura throwing wildly to try to end the fight, but missing. Harris evades the attacks, latches onto the head, and lands a knee in the clinch. Harris shoots. Nakamura is defending nicely, grasps both legs, and dumps Nakamura. Little late though as the bell sounds. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Harris.
Round 3: More of the same to start the third. Harris presses the action into the turnbuckle, attempting to damage Nakamura while shooting for a takedown. Nakamura defends. They finally separate back to center. And Harris brings it right back into the turnbuckle. Deep double leg, and Nakamura goes down. He rope walks to his feet, and Harris drives him into the other turnbuckle. They separate. Not a whole lot of damage by either fighter. As I say that, Harris lands two nice left straights down the pipe, then shoots. Nakamura defends. Back to center. See a trend here? Again, they separate and Harris presses the action with a shot along the ropes. He drives Nakamura into the turnbuckle. LOL! Nakamura blatantly grabs the ropes three times, no intervention from outside judges. Harris finally slams him. BloodyElbow.com scores the bout for Gerald Harris. Nakamura did not produce much offense whatsoever.
Round 1: Banuelos and Tokoro start hesitant, exchanging single blows here and thee but not landing. Tokoro attempting to use his height and reach to stay on the outside. Banuelos ducks under a jab, misses an overhand. This could be a long night with this type of stale action. Tokoro moves around the ring, landing a jab here and there, evading Banuelos' rushes. Tokoro isn't doing definitive damage, but enough to win each round. Banuelos lands a straight, but it doesn't affect Tokoro. Referee stops the fight to talk to both fighters. Restart, and Banuelos goes to town. Lands a few blows, a kick, then an overhand. Tokoro counters, and the action explodes for a moment. Seconds left in the round, and Tokoro shoots. Banuelos defends. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Tokoro.
Round 2: Tokoro starts where he left off with a bevy of jabs to Banuelos' chin. Banuelos lunging at Tokoro, but he can't reach him, and Tokoro is adding a few leg kicks to mix it up. Banuelos rushes, misses, and gets countered by Tokoro. Three minute mark passes, and Tokoro continues an effective ranged attack with kicks and strikes. Banuelos missing most of his attacks. Referee barking at fighters to fight. And Tokoro attempts a flying knee. Banuelos puts Tokoro down with an overhand right, although it was more of a pushing shot that a heavy punch. Back to center, and both men exchange, Tokoro getting the better of it. Two minutes remaining, Tokoro lands a nice outside leg kick, evades the counter from Banuelos. Banuelos comes forward, lands a booming overhand right, then glances a front kick off Tokoro's midsection. Oh... Banuelos pops Tokoro with a right hand with fifteen seconds left, then Tokoro comes forward and wobbles Banuelos at the very end of the round with a head kick. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Tokoro
Round 3: Tokoro shoots to start the round, and Banuelos defends easily, landing in top control. Two minutes pass, and Banuelos is stalling out on the top. Tokoro squeezes out from the bottom and escapes to his feet. Tokoro now going on the prowl, chasing Banuelos around the ring. Knee attempt misses, he resets at center. Tokoro with another head kick attempt, Banuelos returning massive overhands but missing. Tokoro lands a few straight blows, and Banuelos can't answer. They hit the ground, and Tokoro nearly catches Banuelos in a kneebar in the scramble. Banuelos takes Tokoro's back as the crowd begins to chant for Tokoro. Tokoro back up to his feet in the corner. Banuelos latching on and maintaining the lock on Tokoro's body, throws knees to Tokoro's body. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Tokoro, 30-27. Under Japanese scoring, I think he wins as well, although Banuelos' larger blows may swing it his way.
Antonio Banuelos def. Hideo Tokoro via split decision.
Round 1: Bibiano lands with a right to start, and Otsuka counter with stiff straight punches. Bibiano has had enough of that, ducks under an Otsuka left hand and takes him down easily. He immediately locks in a rear naked choke. Wow. it's over. Bibiano Fernandes def. Takafumi Otsuka via submission (rear naked choke), Round 1
Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals: Masakazu Imanari (23-9-2) vs. Abel Cullum (18-5)
Round 1: Imanari comes forward to start the round, Cullum attempts to counter Imanari's strike, and falls into Imanari's guard. Bad move. Imanari wraps him up, nearly transitions to the back. Cullum narrowly escapes, lands in top control and begins throwing. Imanari throws up the legs, nearly armbars Cullum. Cullum maintains position. Imanari secures a triangle now. Cullum is caught, and he lifts up Imanari and attempts to slam him on his head. It works in wiggling him free of the hold. Imanari isn't hurt. Some brief ground and pound is met by another triangle attempt. Cullum does a better job to defend. Imanari now attempting to move to an omoplata, possibly a gogoplata, then twists and catches the omoplata to flip him over. It works. Imanari locks the shoulder and flips. Imanari nearly drags Cullum down to get a choke. Imanari ends up on top. Cullum answers by plowing through him into top control. One minute left and Cullum works in Imanari's full guard against the ropes. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Imanari.
Round 2: Cullum back into a familiar position to start, in Imanari's full guard. Imanari sliding the leg up behind Cullum's head. Cullum attacking the midsection as Imanari holds his leg high. Imanari eating blows from Cullum, the classic two to the body, one to the head. Imanari quickly locks down a gogoplata, and latches onto Cullum's head. Cullum rises to his feet and shakes off the attempt. Cullum makes him pay for his efforts, bombing him with strikes from the top. Referee stands the fight up. Imanari throws himself underneath Cullum, locks up an arm, and nearly rips it off. Cullum defends and start beating on Imanari's back and midsection. Imanari scrambles into full guard. Cullum incessantly beating on Imanari. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Cullum.
Round 3: Imanari walks out, lands a booming left. Cullum is wobbled. Wow. He can barely stand. Imanari picks a few more shots, then transitions to the floor, catches Cullum in an armbar while rolling him over in a front flip. Imanari cranks the arm and Cullum taps furiously. It's over. Masakazu Imanari def. Abel Cullum via submission (armbar), Round 3.
Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals: Rodolfo Marques (13-1) vs. Yusup Saadulaev (8-0-1)
Round 1: Marques lands a jab immediately, then blasts Saadulaev with an overhand. Saadulaev buckles, and Marques attempts to latch on a submission. Saadulaev defends from the top as Marques has a reverse triangle with his arm stuck in a kimura. Saadulaev slides out and escapes. Nice job by the Russian. Marques moves forward, goes for the takedown, and Saadulaev defends and drops on top of Marques. Marques immediately transitions to the leg as Saadulaev defends. Marques really tying up Saadulaev from the bottom, but Saadulaev is defending admirably. Marques finds his way back to his feet and latches onto the back. Saadulaev flips forward to escape, and Marques drops his weight to take top control. Crazy action on the ground early. Two minutes remaining in the round now, Marques working punches to the midsection from the top. A minute passes, Marques continues his assault, Saadulaev doing a nice job of avoiding any real damage. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 Marques.
Round 2: Marques starts early, landing a couple of punches, but leaves himself open for the takedown. Saadulaev explodes through Marques' defenses, taking Marques to his back. Saadulaev now in half guard, landing a few shots. Marques sweeps him to side control. Impressive. Marques works into a body triangle, now yanking on Saadulaev head, attempting to break Saadulaev's will. Marques can't make him tap, and starts pounding on Saadulaev. Marques now has full mount, and wow... Saadulaev flips over and takes top control. Marques begins to threaten from his back quickly, throws up his legs, then transitions to a leg lock. He lets go, tying up Saadulaev in an omoplata. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 for Marques.
Round 3: Marques gets top control to start the round, working from half guard. He slides his leg through for full mount now after a minute passes. Saadulaev throws his leg up to defend, but Marques leans forward. Marques postures up and starts dropping bombs. Wow. Saadulaev. Unreal. Saadulaev bucks his legs up, flips forward out of mount and then threatens with a leg submission. Marques is in danger for a moment, then loses it. Saadulaev still has a hold of his leg, but Marques is out of the woods for now. Marques catches Saadulaev in a omoplata right at the end of the round, can't roll it over to flip Saadulaev. Round ends. BloodyElbow.com scores the round 10-9 for Marques.
Rodolfo Marques def. Yusup Saadulaev via unanimous decision.
Round 1: Harn starts the fight aggressively, literally running at Minowaman. Minowa backpedals, securing side control from the top after Harn sloppily shot for the takedown. Minowa transitions to full mount after a minute and a half. Harn attempts to scramble free, but Minowa transitions to the armbar, nearly securing it. Harn defends. Minowa loses the hold, looks to be moving back into a dominant side control position. Minowa makes it back to side control with 1:30 left in the round. Minowa moves to the North-South position. He slides up Harn's head, secures a neck crank, and squeezes. Harn taps immediately. Ikuhisa Minowa def. Baru Harn via submission (scarf hold), Round 1