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DREAM 3: Lightweight Grand Prix 2nd Round Review

DREAM 3 came to us all live from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. What was on the docket? How about the second round of the DREAM Lightweight Tournament coupled with a fun undercard featuring the likes of Nick Diaz vs. Katsuya Inoue and Jason Miller vs. Katsuyori Shibata?

Let's get rolling with this Mother's Day Review.

First up was a match between Shoji and Takeshi Yamazaki. Shoji came out throwing a flying knee that just missed. From there, Yamazaki grabbed a leg and tried to get his opponent to the canvas as he was pelted with numerous uppercuts. This caused Yamazaki to transition to underhooks, eventually tripping his opponent to the canvas.

Soon after, Yamazaki mounted Shoji and started pounding away. Eventually, though, Shoji somehow worked his way back to his feet. But the moment was short lived as Yamazaki continued to hold a leg and put Shoji on his back again.

This time, as Yamazaki tried to improve his position Shoji began striking him from his back rather effectively. Soon after, Shoji got to his feet and this time when things went to the canvas, Shoji ended up on top.

But only for a moment. Then Yamazaki turned things over and got to side control. Then he transitioned to full mount. But Shoji, in true survivor style, turned Yamazaki over again and started pounding away before goading his opponent to his feet.

Guess what? Yamazaki put Shoji on his back again soon after. From there, Shoji got to his feet and landed a hard knee before being put on his back in the corner of the ring near the one minute mark of the round. Yamazaki transitioned to mount and went for an armbar that Shoji somehow escaped rather miraculously. Shoji then turned things over and hit home with a hard shot or two before the first round bell sounded.

That was one close round.

The second stanza started with Yamazaki tripping his opponent to the canvas but immediately getting turned over. Soon after, Shoji got turned over as well. Once again, Shoji somehow got to his feet and landed a big kick to Yamazaki's head before getting taken down. Then Yamazaki turned things over and started landing big punches.

Eventually things went to their feet again. Of course, Yamazaki followed that up by taking Shoji down again.

When the final bell sounded, Yamazaki was looking for a Kimura.

Takeshi Yamazaki wins via unanimous decision in an entertaining fight.

Next up was a battle between Katsuyori Shibata and Jason "Mayhem" Miller. On paper, this one looked like a mismatch as Shibata brought a losing record into the ring.

The fight started off with Miller landing some hard knees on their feet. Though Shibata countered with a nice uppercut that may have hurt his opponent, the fun for him was short lived as Miller then took him down. From there, Miller transitioned to mount where he connected with a ton of punches before looking for an armbar unsuccessfully.

Still, Miller continued to pound away, eventually ending up in side control where he landed some hard knees, including one to the face. Then came the crucifix position where he started landing several unanswered punches. Still, Shibata toughed it out for as long as he could. But eventually Miller mounted him again and connected with several hard punches before the referee stepped in.

Jason Miller wins via TKO in round one.

Next up was a match between Dae Won Kim and Melvin Manhoef. Both fighters started out cautiously, but then Kim surprisingly nailed his opponent, one with a big time kickboxing background, with a right. From there, a short brawl ensued that Kim got the best of.

Kim then took Manhoef down and fell right into side control. However, Manhoef turned things over from there. Then came as powerful a knee to the head as you'll ever see on the ground. And that was all she wrote, folks.

Melvin Manhoef wins via TKO in round one.

Next up was a match between judo master Bu Kyung Jung and Daisuke Nakamura. Nakamura started things off with some nice, flowing striking. But as soon as they locked up he got taken down and nearly armbarred.

Still, Nakamura found his way to the top position and started executing some ground and pound. After a failed leglock attempt by Nakamura, the two ended up back on their feet where Jung absorbed a hard right that sent him to the canvas. From there, Nakamura followed him to the canvas looking for a kimura before transitioning to an armbar attempt. But Jung successfully escaped.

Then came some fast and technical ground fighting before the two ended up back on their feet. A very good round thus far.

While upright, Nakamura imposed his will. But then Jung got the fight to the ground, hit home with some shots, and was turned over. A nice technical fight that's quite hard to go play by play on due to the speed of the two combatants.

Nakamura executed some ground and pound amidst some decent up kicks by Jung, but then Jung got to his feet.

Soon after, Jung took Nakamura down hard. The two started messing round with ankle locks and toe holds. But then Nakamura ended up on top again.

Then came the leglock attempts again before the bell. A very technical round that went to Nakamura. Then again, DREAM contests don't get scored on a round by round basis.

The second stanza started off with Nakamura doing well on his feet and nearly pulling off an armbar. But Jung successfully escaped (would you expect anything less?). But then Nakamura proved his stand up superiority with a hard right that floored Jung. A couple of punches on the ground later and it was all over.

Daisuke Nakamura wins via KO in round two.

Next up was Katsuya Inoue vs. Nick Diaz. Diaz, one of the toughest fighters in MMA, was not getting a tomato can here. Inoue is a tough guy.

That said, Diaz came out punching and very aggressive. Along with this, the majority of the opening stanza saw him hitting home with punch after punch. But Inoue did counter with several nice lefts inbetween the beating he was taking. Still, several body shots took their toll and eventually Diaz tripped his opponent to the canvas where he started in with the ground and pound.

Lots of blood coming from Inoue's nose.

After two momentary stoppages where the referee wiped blood from Inoue's nose, the two returned to their earlier stand up battle where the Japanese fighter returned some nice fire and started hitting home with solid shots. But Diaz continued forward as he always does. Punch after punch, all taking their toll. Eventually, Inoue started to sway on his feet, and it was around then that his corner threw in the towel.

Nick Diaz wins via TKO in round one.

Lightweight Tournament

Next up was a highly anticipated bout between Luis Firmino and Tatsuya Kawajiri. This one started off with Firmino landing a few decent punches and then taking things to the ground. But Kawajiri is no easy man to control, and soon after he got to his feet. After some jostling, Kawajiri ended up on top of Firmino landing punches.

Firmino eventually got to his feet, but while in the clinch in the corner Kawajiri connected with several solid knees. However, after a momentary lapse of action the referee separated the two.

Kawajiri then landed a right- left combination that floored his opponent. From there, he followed Firmino to the ground and ended up in his adversary's guard. He managed to move to his opponent's half guard as he continued with a ground and pound onslaught.

But then Firmino got to his feet and turned things over. However, Kawajiri simply moved to the corner and sat up (as Bas Rutten said, kind of Chuck Liddell style). Then he got to his feet.

The first round went to Kawajiri, but Firmino is hardly out of things here.

The second stanza started off with Kawajiri turning Firmino over on the ground and then executing some nice ground and pound. In fact, after a brief moment on their feet, Kawajiri once again took his adversary down and did much of the same.

Firmino still somehow managed to get to his feet again. But after a moment, fell to his back with Kawajiri following him there and delivering ground and pound for the majority of the stanza. The end of the round saw Firmino take Kawajiri's back looking for a rear naked choke. But just before the bell Kawajiri turned out of trouble and hit home with a couple of punches.

Kawajiri should win. The judges agree.

Tatsuya Kawajiri wins via unanimous decision.

Next up was perhaps the most anticipated fight of the night with Joachim Hansen taking on Eddie Alvarez. This one would not disappoint.

Alvarez connected with a hard right that floored Hansen nearly right off the bat. Still, Hansen managed to get his wits about him rather quickly and gained full guard. Later, Hansen went for an armbar that Alvarez pulled out of. But the attempt allowed him to get to his feet.

From there, Alvarez connected with a very strong flurry that ended up putting Hansen on his back again. But this time Hansen got to his feet quickly. Soon after, he connected with a very hard left to the face.

Some leather being thrown here. Then Alvarez decided to take Hansen down, and hard.

When the two got to their feet, Alvarez landed a very hard right that floored Hellboy. But Hansen once again got to his feet quickly. Then Alvarez took him down again. Then he let him up.

Awesome fight so far.

After some trading, Alvarez took Hansen down one more time before letting him up. The two traded punches with Hansen getting the better of things before being taken down hard again. Alvarez delivered some significant ground and pound there, eating an up kick along the way, before Hansen got to his feet again. Then Hellboy delivered a nice combination.

A clear round for Eddie Alvarez, and a nice scuffle to end the stanza.

The second stanza started with Alvarez taking Hansen down. But then Hellboy picked him up from his back with both feet and turned things over in dramatic fashion. From there, Hansen almost succeeded with an armbar attempt, but Alvarez escaped. Then came some hard trading.

Later, Hansen looked for a standing Kimura. It didn't happen, but worked to spin Alvarez over. Then he went for the same thing moments later and nearly pulled off a successful transition to an armbar that Alvarez somehow managed to get out of. Then the fight went to the feet where Hansen locked up with his opponent in a Muay Thai clinch, hitting home with some knees.

Alvarez ended the round with a hard high kick and flurry.

Wow! Who wins this one? I can say this: no one deserves to lose.

Eddie Alvarez wins via unanimous decision. Afterwards, Hansen called Alvarez the "toughest man I ever fought," and Alvarez made sure to tell the Japanese audience that there were no losers in this fight.

What an awesome bout. One of the best of the year.

Next up was a match between Caol Uno and Mitsuhiro Ishida. This one started off with the two fighters trading a lot of low kicks. Unfortunately, one of Ishida's hit Uno's groin and he needed a few moments to recover.

When action returned, Uno hit home with a hard right and much more. Further, he showed a rather remarkable ability to sprawl out of Ishida's takedown attempts.

For most of the round, anyway. But after a nice Uno flurry, Ishida finally managed a takedown with about three minutes to go in the initial 10 minute stanza.

A missed submission attempt by both fighters later and the fight was back on their feet.

From there Uno hit home with a hard strike and followed Ishida to the ground where his opponent managed to turn things over. Then Ishida took Uno's back and looked for the rear naked choke. Uno turned things him over on him just as the bell sounded.

Uno definitely won the initial stanza.

The second round started off Ishida looking for a takedown, but this time Uno took his back. Moments later, he was looking for the rear naked choke.

Then he had it.

Caol Uno wins via rear naked choke in round two in a big upset.

In sum, DREAM 3 was a great night of fights. The Eddie Alvarez- Joachim Hansen bout was awesome, Caol Uno proved that he's no afterthought, and Tatsuya Kawajiri did what Tatsuya Kawajiri does. And that description even leaves some good fights out. Who knows, this DREAM thing may eventually turn into a worthy follow up to the former PRIDE organization.

See you next time.