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Alvarez, Uno and Kawajiri Win at DREAM.3

    Sun, 2008-05-11 21:27 — Monty DiPietro

    SAITAMA, May 11, 2008 -- American wrestler Eddie Alvarez beat Norwegian shooto fighter Joachim Hansen in a thriller; while Japanese mixed martial arts legend Caol Uno won in the Main Event at tonight's DREAM.3 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 2nd Round.

    SAITAMA, May 11, 2008 -- American wrestler Eddie Alvarez beat Norwegian shooto fighter Joachim Hansen in a thriller; while Japanese mixed martial arts legend Caol Uno won in the Main Event at tonight's DREAM.3 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 2nd Round.

    Held at the Saitama Super Arena, DREAM.3 featured winners from the inaugural DREAM event meeting in a trio of bouts in the 70 kg/154 lbs Lightweight class, with victors advancing to the Osaka DREAM.5 Lightweight GP Final in July. The card included five additional contests in a variety of weight classes. All bouts were conducted under Official DREAM Rules, (1stR x 10 min, 2ndR x 5min).

    DREAM.3 marked an exciting new chapter in the development of the young fightsport production, as it was held in association with American sports entertainment company ProElite and broadcast live in the United States on HDNet Fights television.

    In the Main Event, it was Caol Uno meeting compatriot Mitsuhiro Ishida.

    A cautious start to the fight, the boys circling without striking. Ishida tested with several low kicks before closing, only to be stopped by Uno's devastating right hook and uppercut. Ishida's efforts left his face bloodied, prompting a doctor's check. After resumption, Uno controlled with the punches until Ishida got the takedown he'd been looking for. Uno however locked up his opponent on the ground. Finally, Ishida found the side mount and threatened to set up the armbar. A wily Uno however escaped to his feet. Late in the round, Ishida managed another takedown to rear mount but could not make the sleeper happen. Uno was simply too good with his ground defense.

    In the second round Ishida again went looking for the takedown, but again had a hard time getting past Uno's strikes. As time ran down an increasingly desperate Ishida made a critical mistake. A single leg takedown attempt was challenged, and the pair came out of a roll with Uno in a strong rear mount. In a flash, Uno had wrapped the arms round to submit by choke sleeper.

    "I know Ishida was eager to fight me," said Uno afterward, "but I'm the one going home with the win. I'm very happy to be advancing in the Lightweight Grand Prix!"

    The card's penultimate bout was another Lightweight GP matchup, with Eddie Alvarez of Elite XC and Joachim Hansen fighting a terrific battle.

    Alvarez got an early right straight punch in to drop Hansen hard, but could not follow up to finish off. Back on their feet again, it was Alvarez through with the fists. Hansen offered a good left as this started to look like a streetfight, before Alvarez body slammed the Norwegian to the mat. Soon another Alvarez right got past Hansen's lapsing guard and dropped him again. Alvarez with another body slam soon afterward, the pair going to the mat with Hansen defending in half mount, Alvarez rising to pass with punches. As the round wore on, the American might have had the edge in stamina, but both faces were battered and bleeding.

    The second round saw tremendous action. The fighters quickly went to the mat, Hansen striving for the choke hold, Alvarez escaping to get atop, only to be launched up and off by a high-speed Hansen leg elevator. Back on the ground, Hansen got the legs around but could not maneuver for the triangle. Alvarez's evasions were impressive, but the best was yet to come. After landing a bunch of punches, Alvarez saw a back mount backfire and ended up in a compromised position, Hansen appearing to have the armbar all but set. Alvarez spectacularly flipped over and out, emerging with his arms triumphantly thrust in the air. The fight ended with Alvarez beaming, Hansen beaten and the crowd on their feet offering a standing ovation.

    "Eddie you are the toughest man I ever fought," said Hansen from center ring. "It's always nice to fight in front of a Japanese audience, always nice to win in front of a Japanese audience, but it's also nice to lose in front of a Japanese audience."

    Alvarez was gracious when he took the mic: "Thanks Joachim, but it takes two people to put on a fight like that, so we are both winners. Tonight we won the crowd! Thanks to everyone here in Japan for welcoming me the way you did, and thanks to everyone back home for supporting me!

    The last of the Lightweight GP fights had wrestler Tatsuya Kawajiri of Japan step in against Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter Luis Buscape. This was a revenge match a long time in the making -- it was way back in 2005 that Kawajiri beat Buscape by decision. Buscape had vowed to collect the revenge he been "anticipating for three years." Alas, Kawajiri wasn't giving anything up tonight.

    From the bell Buscape threw a quick one-two punch combination before diving in for a takedown attempt, which Kawajiri staunchly resisted. Eventually Buscape did get his opponent onto the mat, but it was the Japanese fighter who took the superior position to a side mount. After going north-south, Kawajiri fired in a hard knee, and following a re-stand dropped Buscape with a right hook on the counter, then passed with straight punches. The round ended with Kawajiri locking up in the clinch, effectively avoiding a takedown.

    In the second, Kawajiri repeatedly passed Buscape's guard with punches, and when the pair rose to strike, was again the better fighter. Buscape finally fixed a promising rear mount with some 30 seconds remaining, but an inspired Kawajiri twisted out of harm's way before the bell to take the win by unanimous decision.

    "I turned 30 years old last week," said Kawajiri from the winner's circle, "so I'm still young and strong and looking forward to the rest of this year's Grand Prix."

    A much-anticipated Welterweight (76 kg/167 lbs) qualification bout saw jiu-jitsu fighters Nick Diaz of the United States and Katsuya Inoue of Japan square off for the right to meet Hayato "Mach" Sakurai in the DREAM Welterweight Championship.

    With a 8cm/3" height advantage, Diaz used his reach to out-box with his opponent. This proved a prudent strategy, as by the midway point of the first round the ringside doctor was asked to have a look at the exhausted Inoue's bloodied face. The fight resumed but there was no grace, as the boys basically stood and traded blows. Diaz took a few to be sure, but landed more. The American commenced raising his arms high above his head to invite his opponent in, only to arrest Inoue's advances with straight punches. Not a minute too soon, the hapless Japanese fighter's corner sent the towel sailing into the ring.

    Diaz thanked his jiu-jitsu trainers afterward, although the credit for this win could be more accurately ascribed to his boxing coaches.

    In a one-match Lightweight contest, it was Bu Kyung Jong of South Korea and Daisuke Nakamura of Japan.

    Jong let an arm slip away after the pair went to the mat, but was good in guard. After a re-stand, Jong planted a knee and Nakamura a punch, but the action picked up when the pair returned to the ground seeking submission holds. A number of solid attempts, escapes and reversals here, good flow to the fight. Both men landed punches from the standing position, and Jong worked the legs well, leaving Nakamura looking in vain for a heel hook when the bell sounded.

    The defense was exemplary until early in the second when, with the pair standing and Jung in motion to his left, Nakamura put a right straight punch on the nose to drop his opponent. The Japanese leapt atop the defenseless Jung to hammer home the win.

    In the Middleweight class (84 kg/ 185 lbs), jazzy American Jason "Mayhem" Miller took on pro-wrestler Katsuyori Shibata of Japan.

    Miller approached aggressively with straight punches and knees to the midsection, and soon Shibata was on his back and Miller in full mount. The American never relinquished control, pounding his fists down, briefly looking to extract an arm before taking a side mount and pumping in a knee. Shibata could do nothing here but absorb blows, as Miller held down the head and brought up the knee at will. At one point, Miller smiled and assumed a peace-sign pose for the benefit of ringside photographers. When he rose to his knees and resumed pounding down the fists, the referee stepped in to call the fight.

    "I want to congratulate Shibata, he never quit," said Miller from the winner's circle, before bellowing, in Japanese, "I am a superstar! I am a monster!"

    Also at Middleweight, Dutch dynamo Melvin Manhoef met Dae Won Kim of South Korea.

    The pair stood off for a time before going to a clinch. After separating, suddenly it was a slugfest. Surprisingly Kim the judoka gave about as good as he got, and was on top, in half mount, when the two tumbled to the mat. Manhoef muscled his way out of trouble and into a rear fetal mount and after firing forth a stunning knee, commenced to hammering the fists down on Kim's head, prompting a referee stop.

    "Two weeks ago I fought Remy Bonjasky, so this time I don't think I trained well enough," said Manhoef from center ring. "But fighting here is my dream, so I promise next time you're going to see a monster!"

    Apparently, monster season is upon us.

    The first bout on the night was a Featherweight (67 kg/ 147 lbs) fight featuring Japanese combatants Takeshi Yamazaki and Shoji. They went to the mat frequently, Yamazaki getting the takedowns, Shoji able in guard. Plenty of grappling, a couple of undramatic reversals but neither fighter able to put the hurt through. Shoji connected with a couple of knees here, but Yamazaki worked the armbar, which Shoji only just twisted away from in the dying seconds of the first. In the second Yamazaki again scored with takedowns and worked hard on the ground, while a spry Shoji landed a dandy high kick to bloody his opponent's face. A closer fight than Yamazaki's unanimous decision might suggest.

    The DREAM.3 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 2nd Round attracted a sellout crowd of 21,789 to the Saitama Super Arena. The event was broadcast live in Japan on SkyPerfect TV Pay-Per-View, and live in the United States on HDNet Fights (http://www.hdnetfights.com). It will be delay-broadcast across Japan on the TBS Network and in the United States on HDNet Fights. For broadcast information in other countries, contact local providers. As always, visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage of this and all FEG productions.

    DREAM.3 Fighters' Comments

    SAITAMA, May 11, 2008 -- Here are selected post-event comments from DREAM.3 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 2nd Round fighters.

    Takeshi Yamazaki:

    "I wasn't very happy about the fight, I should have used more of the striking techniques which I had been concentrating on during training.

    "I was supposed to fight for Cage Force sometime between April and June, but because of my opponent's injury, the fight was cancelled and my next fight will be in September.
    My contract with Cage Force does not prohibit me fighting in a different ring, so I took this fight because it was good timing, and would not affect my next fight in September."

    Jason Miller:

    "I wanted to finish the fight faster but Shibata was a pretty tough fighter, he fought with the samurai spirit and he didn't give up. So, it wasn't exactly what I'd planned. But, all I wanted was to make the fight exciting.

    I don't mind who I fight next, but my hero is Sakuraba, and I'd like a chance to beat my own hero. My dream is to go to the top, be a Dream Champion and have a belt!"

    Melvin Manhoef:

    "I didn't tell either Dream or K-1, but I was injured in last fight against Remy Bonjasky. Because I received a lot of kicks and punches in the ribs, I had to have surgery to
    take out blood from behind the lung and I was hospitalized for seven days. So, I couldn't fight as aggressively as I wanted, I needed to be patient."

    Nick Diaz:

    "It took a long time for this fight to be set, and so I had a problem losing weight and that affected my performance. But I'm happy to win, and if they told me I had to get to 70 kg/154 lbs, I would do it. I am looking forward to my next fight against [Hayato] Sakurai for the Welterweight championship!"

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