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DREAM.14 Preview and Predictions

After Shinya Aoki was defeated by Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai was angry. DREAM Executive Producer, Keiichi Sasahara was angry. They wanted to do something.

Sasahara brought Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz to Japan and Mach brought the "White Cage" back so that he could beat him on his own playing field. Diaz has other plans. Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto is desperate to regain his old form. Kazushi Sakuraba is given a chance to hunt a Gracie again. Minowaman will attempt to conquer another hulk.

DREAM.14 is a last-ditch effort by FEG to regain some of their pride, but is it too little too late?

After the break, predictions so good that I like to call them pre-fight results.

What: DREAM.14

When: May 29th, 2010. 4pm live on SKY Perfect TV in Japan. 3AM ET/12AM PT live on HDNet in America.

Where: Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan

Nick Diaz vs. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai
Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz is truly one of the sports elite and at the peak of his career. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai was one of the sports elite when he was at the peak of his career. If this fight had have happened in 2007 after Diaz gogoplata'd Takanori Gomi, and Mach's career had caught its second wind, then it would be been very compelling. At this point in time though, Sakurai is a fighter struggling with motivation and is more focused on his life after his fighting career is over.

Diaz will box Mach into exhaustion with shots to the body and his incredible work rate. As we have seen with many of Diaz's opponents, Mach will cave from the accumulated damage and succumb to a referee stoppage in the second round.
Pick: Diaz

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Ralek Gracie
Kazushi Sakuraba is obviously in the twilight of his career, but he still has some fire in him. Over the course of his career, "The Gracie Hunter" has taken out much more experienced fighters and much more experienced Gracies. Sakuraba should have no problem dispatching the 24-year-old with a kimura in the third round after softening him up with ground and pound throughout the bout.
Pick: Sakuraba

Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Joachim Hansen
It doesn't take a genius to see that this bout has fight of the night written all over it. This is two heavy handed, exciting strikers who think little of defense. Hansen was exhausted after his first cut down to featherweight to face champ Bibiano Fernandes, but it didn't stop him from putting up an extremely competitive fight.

This time around, Hansen should have more energy as he will have 2kg that he doesn't need to cut with a contracted weight of 65kg for this bout. With that in mind, Takaya and Hansen are both going to get rocked in this fight, but Hansen has shown the better ability to recover and so, should last until he gets the KO in the second.
Pick: Hansen

Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto vs. Kiko Lopez
This fight is really do or die for Yamamoto. Without a win since New Year's Eve 2007, his confidence has plummeted and that confidence was what made him so dangerous in the first place. Yamamoto needs a dominating performance to get the "KID" back, and luckily Lopez is a hand-picked opponent just for that. I don't see it being a whitewash, but Yamamoto should be able to get the decision with his sheer talent alone. From there, he can begin the long and difficult road to regaining his position as the "Child of God".
Pick: Yamamoto

Hideo Tokoro vs. Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura
When Wicky is on his feet, he throws ridiculous Mortal Kombat uppercuts that can knock out any opponent. The problem is that he is so easy to take down, he cannot stand up.

Hideo Tokoro's record is not a reflection of how good he is, it's a reflection of his style. With no concept of control or position, Tokoro will go for a submission from anywhere at anytime, and while he is easily one of the most exciting fighters in MMA, his record over the past couple years has slipped as a result.

This is a great stylistic match up for Wicky. He will get taken down at some stage, but Tokoro's loose style will allow him to get back to his feet, and Wicky's submission defense is good enough to avoid getting caught. With his experience in the cage, Wicky will be able to corner Tokoro to land a power shot in the second round.
Pick: Nishiura

Kazuyuki Miyata vs. Takafumi Otsuka
This fight is probably the hardest to call of the night. Since moving down in weight, Miyata is unbeaten and has dominated his opponents. DEEP featherweight champion Takafumi Otsuka had a rough start to his career, but other than that, his only two losses are to Bibiano Fernades and Rafael dos Anjos. Otsuka's biggest strength is his wrestling, but the Olympian will most certainly have the upper hand there. Otsuka should be good enough though to stay off his back.

In a bout between two wrestlers, we often see a striking match. This should be the case here too, and Otsuka is the more complete fighter in that regard and so will take the decision in a close one.
Pick: Otsuka

Yoshiro Maeda vs. Kenji Osawa
It is literally impossible to pick a Yoshiro Maeda fight. But I'll try. When Maeda is on, he is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world, but then out of nowhere, he implodes and loses. Kenji Osawa is a hardy fighter returning to Japan after a mediocre 1-2-1 run in the WEC. When Maeda loses, it is by a KO or submission, but I don't think that Osawa has the tools to bring about either of those finishes. Maeda should control the fight with his striking and barring spontaneous combustion, will win a decision.
Pick: Maeda

Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa vs. Imani Lee
Imani Lee is 1-2 with his only victory coming via a knee injury. An overhand right from Minowa will open Lee up for an easy takedown. From there, Minowa will secure the leg and sit back for an achilles lock/knee crank in the first round ala his bout with Bob Sapp.

Minowaman will then tease that he is leaving the cage before returning to fist pump all four corners of Saitama Super Arena. He will then finish it with a giant fist pump in the center of the cage.
Pick: Minowa

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