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Shinya Aoki vs. 'Mach' Sakurai set for DREAM.8

Shinya Aoki, widely considered to be the number two lightweight in the world, will take on veteran Hayato "Mach" Sakurai in a welterweight bout at DREAM.8 on April 5 at the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan.

The fight, as part of the opening round of the 2009 DREAM Welterweight GP, was announced by parent company FEG at a press conference today in Tokyo.

"DREAM.7 wasn't quite an exciting event and we have to attract fans to the next event," said DREAM event producer Keiichi Sasahara. "I believe this is the fight fans want to see most. I have confidence that 'Mach' and Aoki will have an awesome fight."

Aoki (20-3)'s previous loss, not counting a two-fight night, was to Sakurai via unanimous decision after three five-minute rounds at a Shooto event in August 2005.

"Since my loss to him in 2005 I have developed and am a completely different fighter now," Aoki said.

Sakurai (34-8-2) won his last fight at "Dynamite!! 2008" against pro wrestler Katsuyori Shibata via TKO in the first round.

"I have never rejected any offer since I started MMA," Sakurai said. "I will give my best."

The remaining four participants in Dream Welterweight GP as well as the match-ups will be announced next week.

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