What: Dynamite!! 2010
When: Dec. 31 starting at 4 p.m. locally, airing live on HDNet from 4 a.m. ET.
Where: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Beware pre-fight spoilers below.
DREAM Interim Heavyweight Title Match
Alistair Overeem vs. Todd Duffee
I'm disappointed that FEG caved and decided to make this fight for a belt. An interim belt, yes, but still a belt. Why?
Overeem has had zero fights in DREAM in 2010. His wins in 2009 were against Kazuyuki Fujita and James Thompson. You could make a case for the K-1 champ getting a title shot though, so I suppose Overeem gets a pass. Barely. Todd Duffee though in no way deserves a title shot. The title of "champion" is supposed to mean something. I wonder how Hatsu Hioki feels about these guys getting a title so easily? Anyway, lets ignore the belt (FEG has made it unimportant anyway) and actually focus on two entertaining and gargantuan heavyweights.
The Todd Duffee hype train got dramatically derailed with his knockout loss to Mike Russow back in May. Japan didn't see that though and so the two and a half rounds of the boxing clinic that he put on and his impressive physique makes him a suitable opponent for the K-1 and Strikeforce champ.
Overeem really is better than Duffee in almost every aspect. He is the best heavyweight kickboxer in the world, one of the best grapplers in Europe (although rarely competes any more), he has an incredible guillotine and is infinitely more experienced. The one area that Duffee may have an advantage in is his cardio. That may have been negated by Duffee's lack of preparation for this bout though and so it is just impossible to pick against Overeem. First-round knockout seems likely.
DREAM Featherweight Title Match
Bibiano Fernandes vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
A rematch of the 2009 featherweight GP finals and although in that meeting Fernandes came away with the strap, many felt Takaya should have taken the split decision. I would tend to agree.
Takaya had an excellent 2010 with two spectacular knockouts of Joachim Hansen and Chase Beebe. Fernandes on the other hand has spent most of the year sidelined due to pay disputes and has only managed another split decision against an dilapidated version of Joachim Hansen.
Takaya is carrying the momentum into the bout and he has a much simpler riddle to solve: he needs to not get taken down and not give up his back. Fernandes has a much tougher problem to work out: avoid strikes everywhere. Takaya gets the decision this time around in another close fight.
DREAM Welterweight Title Match
Marius Zaromskis vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
Sakuraba gets another shot at finally getting his first (real) belt and this time it comes in his career debut at welterweight. Sakuraba hasn't been this light since he was in college but he looks as though he has done the cut properly and seems to be healthier than we saw previously in 2010.
Zaromskis had an atrocious run in Strikeforce and he will be hoping to erase the memories of that with another signature head kick knockout. One thing that concerns me about his chances is that he's been limping badly.
If the injury is indeed as bad as I suspect, he will be slow on his feet and Sakuraba will find his low single-leg takedown much easier. That damaged ankle will be easy prey.
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Josh Thomson
This is the most intriguing and toughest fight to call on the biggest card of the year for FEG. Kawajiri and Thomson are both incredibly consistent and tough fighters.
Thomson comes into the fight on only two and a half weeks notice though where as Kawajiri has had a full camp in preparation for Dynamite. In a bout that is so close paper, I think that slight difference in preparation may be the difference. Thomson is perhaps more well-rounded with his submissions but Kawajiri is incredibly difficult to submit if you aren't Shinya Aoki. I see Thomson looking for the submission off his back but getting slowly ground down and Kawajiri taking a decision on his home turf.
Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome LeBanner
With LeBanner walking out on his last fight and now not even showing up for interviews pre-fight, it is hard to say where the K-1 legend's head is at. Its hard to believe but Le Banner is a naturally better mixed martial artist than the young judoka. That being said, he doesn't strike me as a guy would really would like to fight any more and a submission is an easy way out of that.
Caol Uno vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
After being a tiny lightweight for his entire career, Caol Uno finally follows Kazyuki Miyata down to featherweight but it comes too late. It's no secret that Uno has been contemplating retirement and against Miyata he has basically no chance of a fight that will motivate him to continue.
Uno will still be small as Miyata will be cutting a massive 18 pounds for the bout, Miyata is the kind of wrestler that can give a submission fighter light Uno fits and Miyata is at the peak of his career. The Sydney Olympian takes a smothering decision.
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Jason High
Before Sakurai fought Nick Diaz he had flat, blackened eyes as a result of the difficult weight cut. For High, Sakurai looked noticeably brighter and was in a much more positive mood. I have little hope that we will ever see Sakurai return to what he once was but he should at least be competitive this time around against Jason High.
Sakurai's lack of serious training partners and Mach Dojo has led to him developing submission defense issues and although High's prediction of a first round, first-minute submission is highly unlikely, it won't be far off the mark. Mach's best chance at this point in his career is on the feet but he has seemed agile enough recently to keep the fight there if he needs to.
Hiroshi Izumi vs. Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa
Talking to Izumi pre-fight, I quizzed him about why he is insistent on ignoring his world-class judo and instead deciding to throw club-level leather. His answer, that he feels like he does not have time to learn properly, does not give me high hopes for the rest of his career.
Minowa is never one to shy away from a slugfest and so I would expect to see it again here despite the pair being stellar on the canvas. Minowa can actually strike well and so should take a tough fought decision. Bound to be a messy fight.
Hideo Tokoro vs. Kazushisa Watanabe
Tokoro has gone 4-5 in DREAM. It has been highly entertaining but still, he badly needs a win, and the famous but clueless Watanabe, is a great opportunity for that. A triangle choke is imminent.
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Tatsuya Mizuno
Kharitonov is almost a completely unknown commodity in the MMA these days. His first-round loss against Jeff Monson in April 2009 is the only thing that we have to go off and that was completely uninspiring.
Tatsuya Mizuno has been exceeding expectations lately and this time he attempts to push that further as he moves up a weight division. His frame is simply too small though and I have no confidence that he will be effective as a heavyweight.
The one-time top-`0 heavyweight did have some golden moments in his failed K-1 run in 2010. They should surface again here as he blasts Mizuno to the body for the KO.
Tetsuya Yamato vs. Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura (K-1 Rules)
K-1 63kg MAX Japan GP champ Tetsuya Yamato should easily win against the recklessly aggressive "Wicky." Yamato doesn't mind being hit though and it could cost him against someone with Wicky's power. As long as he doesn't get too excited about fighting in front of 45,000 people who want to see the wild side of the champ, Yamato gets the KO.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Kyotaro (K-1 Rules)
I like the confidence that Mousasi carries into this match but I think he is underestimating Kyotaro, as many people do. To say that he only has a right hand is incorrect. Kyotaro's movement is what wins him fights and Mousasi has never been one to be noted for his footwork. No opponent in his division has been able to really catch Kyotaro and I don't see Mousasi being the first. The K-1 heavyweight champ takes a lopsided decision.
Shinya Aoki vs. Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima (Mixed Rules)
The result of this unusual bout was decided when it was announced that if the fight goes the distance then it will be a draw.
With kickboxing rules being employed in the first round and MMA rules in the second, Nagashima has three minutes to knock out the DREAM Lightweight Champ who will be doing his best to run and survive until he gets his chance to show his wares. Three minutes isn't a long time and it's definitely conceivable that Aoki makes it out of the round alive but the smaller MMA gloves will mean that Jienotsu's already formidable power will be even more crushing. Jienotsu effectively has eight minutes to knock out Aoki while the DREAM Ace only has five to submit the K-1 representative.
Despite the advantage that Jienotsu carries into the bout, given the rules you have to bank on a draw. Both fighters will be fighting purely defensively when their opponent is fighting under their own rules.
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