Bryan Alvarez's live DREAM report from New Year's Eve in Japan


By Bryan Alvarez

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I'm going to do this update until Dave calls to do the audio show, which will probably be about 1:00 or 1:30 AM Pacific.

The line-up:

Yusup Saadulaev vs. Hideo Tokoro (bantamweight tournament reserve match)
Masakazu Imanari vs. Antonio Banuelos (bantamweight tournament semifinal)
Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques Diniz (bantamweight tournament semifinal)
Megumi Fujii vs. Karla Benitez
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
Ryo Chonan vs. Hayato Sakurai
Masaaki Noiri vs. Kengo Sonoda (kickboxing rules)
Yuta Kubo vs. Nils Widlund (kickboxing rules)
Josh Barnett vs. Hideki Suzuki (pro wrestling)
Yuichiro Nagashima vs. Katsunori Kikuno (1st round kickboxing rules; 2nd round MMA rules)
Jerome LeBanner vs. Tim Sylvia (pro wrestling, IGF title is not at stake in this one)
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Aerts (pro wrestling)
Kazushi Sakuraba & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Shinichi Suzukawa & Atsushi Sawada (pro wrestling)
Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Lion Takeshi for Dream featherweight title
Earlier winners of the bantamweight tournament face off for the title
Shinya Aoki vs. Satoru Kitaoka for lightweight title
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Satoshi Ishii

Nothing happened the first half hour of the show, just the announcers running down the matches for the evening. Can't really even guess a number, but the building is empty. Of course, it's a nine hour show so I'm sure it will fill up quite a bit by more by the end, but it's pretty sad to see at this moment.

Yusup Saadulaev vs. Hideo Tokoro. This was a reserve match for their one night bantamweight tournament. They did a video package before the match that involved Tokoro, described as TOP BATTER, hitting a ball and then running between third base and home back and forth about a dozen times as exuberant Japanese men cheered. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING BUT I LOVE IT~! Tokoro tried what appeared to be a Thesz press immediately. Failed. Maybe he thought he was in one of the pro-wrestling matches. Yusup then picked him with a belly-to-back and drilled him right onto his head. Tokoro was out immediately. I was worried he was unconscious or dead. Tokoro was talking and it appeared he could move his arms, but they stretchered him out and seemed very concerned about his neck.

Antonio Banuelos vs. Masakazu Imanari in a Bantamweight Grand Prix semifinal. Fights are two five-minute rounds. You know, because they only have nine hours to fill. Kickboxing match early. Nobody did any damage whatsoever. A few kicks landed by both guys in the last minute. A nothing round. Imanari wanted it on the ground but Banuelos wanted none of it. Every now and then Imanari would take a shot, not a very good one, and essentially take a bump, hoping Banuelos would follow him to the ground. Didn't happen. He did finally pull guard but his legs weren't closed so Banuelos just stood up. Banuelos pulled guard again and closed his legs this time. He was trying to set up submissions but couldn't get anything, and Banuelos was throwing punches from inside. Elbows to the head are illegal in Japan, so Banuelos was limited in what he could do. Imanari swept him, Banuelos stood up, and Imanari pulled guard again. Second half of this round was actually pretty exciting. The reality is that Imanari dominated the position in the last three minutes of a ten minute fight, but Banuelos was never in any danger and was landing shots the entire time. Banuelos' fight, but this is Japan so anything can happen in the judging. First judge gave it Imanari, second to Banuelos and third to Banuelos.

Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques Diniz in another Bantamweight semi-final. I should note, Crazy PRIDE Lady was the ring announcer this evening, and she is just as fantastic as ever, maybe even more so because she is even more sing-songy and less screechy now than during the PRIDE days. I have had my weekly fill of screechy women after Impact. Should be noted that the final, which takes place this evening, will be five five-minute rounds. Fernandes was very aggressive early, kicking the living hell out of Diniz. Diniz was throwing hard kicks as well. Fernandes took him down and wanted a kimura, but he was stuck in the corner. So he started destroying Diniz's thigh with hard elbow shots. Just brutal. Fernandes was absolutely wrecking this dude. The ref, with 20 seconds left in the first round, inexplicably stood them up in the middle. Fernandez was taking him apart again in the second but got warned about a low knee. Second round was not as dominating as the first, but Bibiano easily took the fight and should breeze through the final over Banuelos as well. That's a bad dude.

Masaaki Noiri vs. Kengo Sonoda (kickboxing rules, three three-minute rounds, no groundwork obviously). A spirited battle. Noiri got the unanimous decision.

Yuta Kubo vs. Nils Widlund (kickboxing rules). Nils and his crew are apparently sexy and they know it. I believe this was the first time I ever saw cornermen come to the ring in skinny jeans. In the end, it was sexy and he KO it, as he got Mirko Crocop high kicked midway through the third round and even though he was conscious, he just shook his head, refusing to get up. He took the fight on ten day's notice, so he deserves credit for that.

Building looking much better now.

Time for the first intermission. They're showing past fights.

And we're back. That was like an hour intermission.

Ryo Chonan vs. Hayato Sakurai. Chonan is the last guy to beat Anderson Silva another lifetime ago. Sakurai knocked him on his ass early and went after him. Chonan was laying in the half guard trying to defend with a lockdown. Sakurai landed shots from the top and then passed to side control. Chonan managed to stand up with two minutes left in the first. Mostly a clinch for the rest of the round. Another takedown by Sakurai in the second, right into side control. Both guys were throwing knees, Sakurai from the top and Chonan from the bottom. Chonan tried to escape but Sakurai immediately went for the mount. Chonan caught him in half-guard. Not much of a fight so far. Clinch against the ropes in the third. Chonan landed a couple of shots and A FIGHT BROKE OUT. Sakurai was slowing down and Chonan was making a comeback. Sakurai immediately took him down. Sakurai held him there and moved to side control. He was largely just holding the guy down. Chonan tried the lamest escape imaginable and got mounted. Sakurai got his back. Chonan nearly escaped but Sakurai put him on his back and threw knees from side control. He mounted, and Chonan immediately swept him. Bell rang. Last round was fun. Sakurai's fight. Judges gave it to him.

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata. Miyata, nicknamed Little Hercules, is called the king of the suplexes. Hopefully we see some tonight, unless they're like the one we saw in the opener, which was no buys. Only update, by the way, is that Tokoro was taken to the hospital. Kawajiri with the takedown quickly, then slowly and technically got the mount. Kawajiri mauled him from the top, then moved into a side choke and almost had it finished when the bell rang to end round one. Total domination. Another takedown by Sakurai in the second. Miyata is a former Olympian in wrestling and he was being taken down at will here. Clinch against the ropes. They ended up on the ground and Miyata went to take his back. He didn't really take it, and they were passive enough that the ref stood them up. Another takedown by Kawajiri. Kawajiri went for the same side choke he tried at the end of round one here at the end of round two, but this time Miyata was forced to tap before the bell rang. Kawajiri looked great here.

Megumi Fujii vs. Karla Benitez. This was the first-ever women's fight in the history of DREAM. Karla did a happy dance all the way to the ring. It was awesome. They claimed 25,000 in attendance. This fight was contested at 115 pounds. Apparently Bodog had Fujii listed at -2000 in the odds Friday morning, which, if true, has to be the most one-sided odds I've ever hard of, probably by double. They were on the ground almost immediately. Even the announcers didn't know what Fujii had done to end up in the position she was. Within about 30 seconds she got the armbar. Was pretty sad to see Karla go from happy dancing girl to girl whose arm wasn't in the right place anymore. It wasn't quite as disgusting as the Ronda Rousey dislocation in her last fight, but it was pretty bad. Karla was remarkably calm about the whole thing. So I hope you didn't waste your money on that bet.

Sadly, it is time for me to wrap this report, just before the pro-wrestling matches start. Dave and I will be up with tonight's audio show by about 3:30 AM Pacific/6:30 AM Eastern. Someone will wrap this up with either results or further play-by-play tomorrow. Thanks for joining us for both play-by-plays tonight!

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