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DREAM 6 Middleweight GP Final Preview

DREAM 6 will come to us all live on September 23, 2008 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. We're talking about the finals of the middleweight grand prix, one of the things that makes many of us think of the old PRIDE organization when we see this new DREAM outfit. Of course, the real draw in this one may be the match between former PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix Champion Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and Alistair Overeem.

If you haven't seen middleweight tourney contenders Ronaldo Jacare Souza fight on the ground or Melvin Manhoef mix it up his feet, then now's as good a time as any.

Middleweight Tourney

Ronaldo Jacare Souza (9-1) vs. Zelg Benkei Galesic (9-3):
Galesic has solid technical striking skills and hits very hard. Further, he has good takedown defense and solid overall grappling skills. Jacare, on the other hand, has only average stand up. But when it comes to all forms of grappling?takedowns, takedown defense, and especially submissions?he's an elite practitioner.

Prediction: Galesic has lost twice by way of submission during his MMA career, and eight of Souza's nine wins have come by way of submission. In the end, expect Souza to survive on his feet for a few moments before taking this fight to the ground. Once there, it should only be a matter of time.

Ronaldo Jacare Souza wins via first round submission.

Melvin Manhoef (22-4-1) vs. Gegard Mousasi (22-2-1):
Cutting to the chase, Manhoef has elite technical striking skills?he can kick, punch, defend, and generally do it all on his feet?to go along with ridiculous power. In other words, there's a reason why 21 of his 22 victories have come by way of (T)KO. In the end, he's also extremely athletic and strong which lends to some excellent takedown defense. If he ends up on the ground, he can be submitted even if his submission defense has improved over the years.

Mousasi is also a very gifted striker that hits hard. Further, his submission skills are better than his opponents'. In terms of wrestling?takedowns, takedown defense, ground control?he's good but not great. Guess is, though, that Manhoef isn't looking to take this one to the ground.

Prediction: There are two ways to beat Melvin Manhoef. First possibility? Possess a great jaw, because you are going to get hit, and then attempt to outlast him before taking the fight to the ground (ex.- Dong Sik Yoon). Second, you can take him down quickly and submit him. Guess is that unless Mousasi is able to tire Manhoef out, he won't be able to get him to the ground. So that leaves the whole tough it out idea.

Mousasi does have an excellent jaw and very good defense on his feet, making this a tough call. Still, Manhoef is a more explosive athlete. So expect that to be the difference.

Melvin Manhoef wins via TKO in round one.

The Middleweight Final

Melvin Manhoef (23-4-1) vs. Ronaldo Jacare Souza (10-1): The story on this one would seem pretty simple. If Souza can take Manhoef down and keep him there early, he'll submit him. On the flip side, if he can't get Manhoef down quickly, expect him to get knocked out. This is a very tough call that will likely have a lot to do with which fighter had the tougher time in the opening round.

But in the end, expect Souza to have a difficult time getting Manhoef to the canvas early on. It only takes one punch.

Melvin Manhoef wins via KO in round one.

The Rest of DREAM 6

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (23-6-2) vs. Alistair Overeem (28-11):
Though this particular installment of DREAM is about the middleweights, in reality this fight is probably the most anticipated of the event. Overeem has been calling out Cro Cop for awhile now, and the Croatian fighter is clearly bothered by it.

Cro Cop has the better wrestling skills, to include takedowns, takedown defense, and ground control. Overeem has the better submission skills, particularly that standing guillotine of his. Guess is, though, that none of that is going to matter.

This one will likely stay standing. Overeem has the better reach and clinch skills. Cro Cop has the better kicks and is more of a technically sound striker with his hands, even if Overeem may hold more power in those fists of his.

In the end, Overeem has lost via (T)KO on six occasions. Cro Cop has only lost twice by the same and has been fighting in the heavyweight division for a longer period. That experience coupled with his more vast kickboxing experience should allow the Croatian to connect with a power shot first.

And that is likely what this fight will be all about.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic wins via TKO in round one.

Shinya Aoki (17-3) vs. Todd Moore (9-2): Moore wants to keep this one standing. Unfortunately for him, he won't be able to.

Shinya Aoki wins via submission in round one.

Yoshihiro Akiyama (11-1) vs. Masanori Tonooka (1-1):
Akiyama has a huge experience advantage here.

Yoshihiro Akiyama wins via first round submission.

Masakatsu Funaki (38-13-1) vs. Ikuhiso Minowa (40-28-8):
Funaki's best days are behind him.

Ikuhiso "The Punk" Minowa wins via TKO in round two.

Hayato Mach Sakurai (32-8-2) vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka (12-5): Hironaka will have trouble with Sakurai's strength and well- roundedness.

Hayato Sakurai wins via second round TKO.

Keita Nakamura (14-3-2) vs. Adriano Martins (9-3):
Nakamura is an excellent submission fighter and a tough guy. Martins is a tough guy that wants to stand. But he just hasn't been in there against the same level of competition as his opponent to date.

Keita Nakamura wins via third round submission.

Sergei Kharitonov vs. Jimmy Ambriz (13-9-1): Ambriz is huge. Kharitonov is everything else.
Sergei Kharitonov wins via first round TKO.