In an event that will be held in part to benefit its ravaged home country of Japan, DREAM on Friday announced its first major show since New Year's Eve. The promotion will host a bantamweight tournament, scheduled to take place on May 29 at Saitama Super Arena.
The tourney, titled the "Fight for Japan DREAM Grand Prix," will feature the first- and second-round matchups of an eight man field. The participants will be Hideo Tokoro
, Masakazu Imanari
, Yoshiro Maeda
, Keisuke Fujiwara, Darren Uyenoyama, Kenji Osawa, Takafumi Otsuka
and Atsushi Yamamoto.
The final round of the event is expected to be held in July, and the top three fighters from the field will advance into a World Grand Prix event.
The still-developing May 29 event could also host matches that may include Shinya Aoki
, Mitsuhiro Ishida
, and Joachim Hansen
, among others, according to the promotion.
DREAM also made a point of announcing that the event would be as efficient as possible in terms of energy usage, with event producer Keiichi Sasahara saying it would use "minimal production and minimal light in it, [and] will be held in such a manner as possible without wasting electricity." That, of course, is a solemn nod to the ongoing problems in the wake of the nation's crisis.
Since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami caused devastation in Japan, only a handful of small events have been held. Even before the March 11 natural disasters, Japanese MMA had seen its future in doubt after losing key sponsors and seeing a dwindling fan base. After a series of horrific events that dwarfed the possibility of MMA fading out of the Japanese market, this is at least a single speck of good news.