Aoki spent almost the entire fight on top of McCullough, the former WEC lightweight champion who was last seen losing in the first round of Bellator's lightweight tournament, and in the round's closing seconds he took McCullough's back, wrapped his arms around McCullough's neck and made him tap out. Officially there were three seconds left on the clock when McCullough tapped.
It was an easy win for Aoki, Dream's lightweight champion and biggest star, and his sixth straight victory since losing to Gilbert Melendez in a Strikeforce fight in April of 2010. Aoki has generally not faced top competition, but he continues to look like a top lightweight.
Dream.17 also featured the quarterfinals of the promotion's Bantamweight Grand Prix. Those fights included sensational showings from Bibiano Fernandes, who needed just 41 seconds to choke out Takafumi Otuska, and from Masakazu Imanari, who used a great arm bar to submit Abel Cullum in the third round. The other two quarterfinal fights went to the judges' scorecards, with UFC veteran Antonio Banuelos beating Hideo Tokoro and Rodolfo Marques beating Yusup Saadulaev.
Takeshi "Lion" Inoue turned in the show's biggest highlight with a great head kick knockout of UFC veteran Caol Uno. And Tatsuya Kawajiri, who dropped down to featherweight for this fight, put in a good showing against Joachim Hansen, winning with an arm-triangle choke in the third round.
Dream.17 may also go down as the final showing of the Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba, who was submitted by Yan Cabral. Sakuraba is one of the sport's all-time greats, but he's now 42 years old and on a four-fight losing streak, and he really doesn't belong in the ring anymore.
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